Utility Week

UTILITY Week 2nd September 2016

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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UTILITY WEEK | 2ND - 8TH SEPTEMBER 2016 | 15 Upper Derwent Valley said: "We are delighted to be marking a major mile- stone for one of our most momentous sites. It proudly serves over half a mil- lion customers across the Midlands. It's also surrounded by a wealth of history and we hope that its legacy lives on for many more years to come. If you have an asset or project you would like to see featured in this slot, please send details of the project to: paul.newton@fav-house.com Pipe up Chris Wood It is expected that, from April 2017, all UK employers will be charged a levy of 0.5 per cent on their annual pay bill if this is greater than £3 million. In return, they will receive electronic vouchers that can be used to provide apprenticeship training for their employees. The aim of the levy is to incentivise businesses to meet the govern- ment's o-quoted target of three million additional apprentices by the year 2020. My underlying fear, though, is that the apprentice- ship levy scheme is too heavily biased towards meeting government targets rather than providing a route to meet commercial needs. Three million apprenticeships in call centre management, hairdressing or book-keeping may be all well and good for government statistics, but it would fail to tackle the UK's real skills shortages in engineering mechanics and other technical subjects critical to our national infrastructure. More fundamental change is needed. Schoolchildren need, for example, better provision of, and access to, informed careers advice and an understanding of the post- school options, rather than simply being pushed into sometimes valueless university degree courses with little employment opportunities aer graduation. The crux of this is to provide valuable, real-world careers advice, through which a genuine interest in industry can be generated. If successful, industry role models might be discovered or created along the way, which would provide the basis of a virtuous cycle of reinforcement. Bringing employers directly into schools is a very good way to do this. One organisation leading the way with this approach is Founders4Schools, which aims to give schoolchildren access to inspiring business leaders in their community. Develop Training is one such organisation working with Founders4Schools as a part of our Industry Skills Forum, which brings together leaders from the utility sector to develop ideas and initiatives around recruit- ment, training and development. Naturally, any new scheme which promotes appren- ticeships should be welcomed but, ultimately, busi- nesses must take responsibility for their own future and ensure there is a suitably trained next generation of workers to ensure their survival and provide the services that the UK requires. They can start by getting ready to do more than simply meeting their responsibilities under the apprenticeship levy. April 2017 is fast approaching, so employers need to start preparing now. Chris Wood, chief executive, Develop Training Limited "The apprenticeship levy is biased towards meeting gov- ernment targets rather than commercial needs." "Schoolchildren need better provision of, and access to, informed careers advice" Operations & Assets

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