Recruitment difficulties predicted at National Training Awards
Wrong higher-education policy — Chris Humphries of City & Guilds.
‘The Government’s 50% policy on higher education is simply wrong. We need more skilled craftsmen and women, more technicians and associate professionals — not more graduates.’ That was the sharp message of Chris Humphries, director general of City & Guilds, at the presentation of the National Training Awards for the HVACR sector. He warned that the number of people aged 16 to 19 entering the labour market in three years time will fall sharply in reaction to the dramatic fall in the birth rate over the last 10 years. ‘If you thought it was hard to recruit young people into the building-services industry now, just wait till their overall numbers are dropping by 40-50 000 a year from 2007 onwards,’ said Mr Humphries. Acknowledging the crucial contribution made by graduates in this industry, he nevertheless expressed concern about the balance of emphasis and investment. ‘The balance is wrong. We need more emphasis on craftsmen and support staff.’ He also emphasised the proven link between higher workforce skills and competitiveness and the link between higher personal skills and earning power. ‘Yet,’ he said, ‘the overall skill levels of too many people and adults in the UK are lower than our competitors, so companies and individuals are failing to reap the benefits that are really available ot all. ‘It is essential that business put skills at the heart of future development. If we are to maximise the benefits to the whole of UK Plc, this is a cry we need to hear from every business, not just the cream of the crop [represented by winners of National Training Awards}.’ Among the many awards were the following. • Incorporated engineer of the year: Ryan Paul Smith for ‘pro-active approach to work and his ability to communicate at all levels’. He is employed by Crown House Engineering and a student at Stockport College. • Happold Bursary: Martyn John Floyd (‘has the desire to succeed’). He is employed by Rosser & Russell Vinci. • Alfred Manly Award (principal winner): Steven Paul Wiles, an employer of Axima Building Services. • National student engineer of the year: Claire Louise Atherton (‘active involvement with innovation’). She is employed by Haden Young and a student at Liverpool Community College.