Unite, Britain's biggest union, has called for urgent action to close the skills gap by providing decent skilled apprenticeships to young people or face a skills 'timebomb'.
Speaking at a conference on skills in Manchester today (6 June), Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: "Decent, skilled apprenticeships today will translate into the skilled workforce of tomorrow - that should be the goal for British manufacturing and our science based industries.”
The conference is being jointly held by Unite and the Technical Apprenticeship Service (TAS), which is part of the Cogent Sector Skills Council which covers the chemicals, life sciences, oil, pharmaceutical and polymer industries. The conference is taking place at the Mechanics Institute, Princess Street, Manchester.
Tony Burke continued: “In the UK we have a skills deficit which was created because even in the good times, the UK failed to take on enough young people in skilled apprenticeships. We are facing a demographic timebomb with an ageing workforce and if we are to pull out of the recession, the last thing we need is a skills shortage”
“We need a new eco-system for skills in the UK. The Technical Apprenticeship Service model is one of the ways forward - providing skilled apprenticeships, with decent pay and working conditions.
The Technical Apprenticeship Service is an easy to use skills service for employers or training providers and for apprentices themselves and is designed to bring the best talent to the industry.
Since its inception in 2011 Technical Apprenticeship Service has placed 100 new apprentices, with 100 apprentices in recruitment ready to start in September this year and 400 expressions of interest from science based companies.
For more information contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931315
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.
Tony Burke is a member of the steering committee for the Technical Apprenticeship Service and a member of the board of Cogent. The Unite/ TAS Conference takes place at the Mechanics Institute, Princess Street, Manchester on 6 June.