Business secretary Vince Cable has launched the Advanced Skills Accreditation Scheme which aims to boost the skills of engineers working within the automotive supply chain and high-tech industries.
The scheme was developed by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) in partnership with the Semta sector skills council and leading universities. It gives engineers the opportunity to develop the skills that are required to create world-leading products and innovative technologies over the coming decades.
The scheme is being given £1 million by the government's Growth and Innovation Fund. Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick will manage relationships with educational establishments, while an employer board chaired by JLR and featuring representatives from leading technology companies will oversee the quality and delivery of the scheme.
Initially the programme will be rolled out to companies of all sizes in the West Midlands, and subsequently to the rest of England in the next two years. It is hoped that the scheme will eventually become UK-wide.
Cable said: “This is the sort of innovative idea that will help address the crippling shortage of trained engineers. It’s fantastic that JLR sees benefit not just in making itself competitive but also collaborating across the sector to help make British advanced manufacturing increasingly competitive.
“The best solutions are found when business, universities and government work together and this is an excellent example of partnership working to face future challenges.”
Engineers will be able to choose from more than 50 course modules covering advanced skills and technologies, such as hybrid technology or sustainable powertrains, which will then count towards a qualification up to master’s degree level.
It is expected that engineers at more than 2,000 companies in England will take part in the scheme, taking 5,000 master's degree places over the next two years.
JLR's engineering director Bob Joyce said: “JLR developed the scheme to raise skill levels among our employees, and over a two-year period more than 1,000 engineers have been through the programme.
“The next generation of green, high-performance products demand very different concepts and technologies, and our engineers need to be equipped to deliver those innovations.
“The Advanced Skills Accreditation Scheme offers supply chain companies access to master’s level education tailored to their business needs, from a network of the best universities.”
Lynn Tomkins, Semta's director of operations, said: “Semta believes that this programme will transform higher education opportunities for all employers, particularly small enterprises.
“It’s exactly what is needed. Lack of high-level skills is one of the barriers to economic growth and this significant investment will go some way to addressing the issue.
“It is important that employees from all backgrounds with the aptitude to develop skills are given the opportunity, which is why not basing access to master’s-level training purely on academic ability makes this programme unique.”
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