§ Mr. Crausby
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he is taking to address skill shortages in the engineering industry. 618W
§ Mrs. Liddell
The DTI, working in collaboration with the industry and with national training organisations such as EMTA, is supporting a number of initiatives to explore and address the skill needs of the engineering industry. For example, the Training Networks for Engineering Technicians Programme, worth £1 million, is bringing together networks of small firms to improve the technical and managerial skills of engineering technicians working in the manufacturing sector ranging across a wide variety of engineering areas, from automotive components to textiles to casting. Several activities are focused on tackling engineering skills shortages in IT, electronics and communications (ITEC) sectors. These include a work placement scheme for electronics engineering students, a project to look at the best way to train printed circuit board designers and a pilot programme to improve the skills of electronics teachers.
In addition, DTI is involved, with DfEE, in major reforms that will support vocational training and boost the supply of engineers, notably setting up the learning and skills councils; a £100 million drive to set up vocational centres of excellence in further education colleges; and the strengthening of modern apprenticeships and national training organisations.