Tackling skills issues

16 June 2008

L-R: Dr Chris Young, Dr Drew Nelson, John Griffiths (AM Deputy Minister for Skills, National Assembly for Wales), Sir Alan Jones, and Philip Whiteman (Chief Executive of Semta)

A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed that will help technology driven businesses tackle skills issues that are costing the Welsh economy £30 million in lost productivity.

The Memorandum will see the Welsh Electronics Forum and Semta develop recruitment practices and workforce skills.

Semta is the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies, and this agreement means that the two organisations, which together represent more than 100,000 employees in more than 6000 companies in Wales, will collaborate to ensure a unified industry-led approach to business support and representation.

Sir Alan Jones of Toyota, chairman of Semta, said: “Our research estimates that hard-to-fill vacancies in the engineering industry cost the Welsh economy £30 million in lost productivity last year. Our role is to ensure that science, engineering, manufacturing and technology companies in Wales can be more competitive and continually respond to the changing needs of employers. We want to forge partnerships with those organisations which have a real understanding of these sectors and the skills needed to deliver real economic benefit.”

In Wales, the information, communications, technology and telecoms industry provides nearly 27,000 jobs and contributes 2% to Welsh GVA. This contribution makes it essential that it is not overlooked, according to Dr. Drew Nelson, President of IQE and Chairman of the Welsh Electronics Forum. “The information, communications, technology and telecoms industry is a key enabler for every other sector of the Welsh economy. Ensuring its success will also create a real ‘one Wales’ partnership to the benefit of each business and employee,” commented Dr. Nelson.

Working with the Forum, Semta will adopt a three-year plan, supporting the Assembly’s ‘Skills that Work for Wales’ strategy for skills and employment, to improve the match between skills supply and demand, improve the skills of those with no qualifications (estimated at about 11% of the Welsh engineering workforce), and improve management and leadership skills. In addition, there will be a drive to tackle issues relating to gender imbalance and an ageing workforce, whilst also ensuring that Welsh business skills keep pace with employers’ needs in a changing world.

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