Utility Week

UTILITY Week 2nd December 2016

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UTILITY WEEK | 2ND - 8TH DECEMBER 2016 | 21 the customers' source of supply to Greenock Water Treatment Works (WTW) from the Kaim WTW, which currently serves the Kilmacolm and Lochwinnoch areas, and the Doug- liehill WTW, which serves Port Glas- gow and small parts of Greenock. The Kaim and Dougliehill WTWs, and customers in their supply zones, have experienced water quality issues in the past. If you have an asset or project you would like to see featured in this slot, email: paul.newton@fav-house.com Pipe up Chris Wood W e are just a few months away from seeing significant changes in the training and skills landscape, so it was both surprising and disap- pointing that chancellor Philip Hammond chose to omit any mention of this in his autumn statement. In particular, an opportunity was missed to provide further details of the Apprenticeship Levy, which is due to be introduced from April 2017, and reassure busi- nesses that it is not just a stealth tax. Meanwhile, there remains a dearth of core practi- cal skills in the UK so, while any initiative focused on developing the next generation of workers is welcome, my fear is that the Apprenticeship Levy scheme may be used more as a political and economic tool rather than as a practical scheme to start to address this issue. The chancellor's announcements of new initiatives relating to the country's infrastructure investments, such as £1.1 billion for local transport networks and £2.3 billion towards housebuilding are to be cautiously wel- comed. However, it seems likely that in the short term at least, skills shortages in these areas will be only exacer- bated. Whatever your view on Brexit, the utilities and construction industries are already heavily reliant on for- eign workers but uncertainty over the future direction of the country is likely to lead to a reduction in the number of these workers coming here. Their places will need to be taken from within the existing UK workforce. However, it is unclear as to how much, if any, of the chancellor's plans for investment will be targeted towards such essential training and development. This seems particularly relevant to the establish- ment of a five-year, £23 billion, science and technology National Productivity Investment Fund aimed at driving innovation in science and technology. Such an invest- ment is applauded but its success will rely wholly on making best use of able engineers, researchers and scientists and they are already in short supply. Much of what the chancellor announced would appear to be positive, in particular for the construction sector. Nevertheless, the fundamental basis of funding for much of our training will change very soon through the levy. Financial demands on businesses will increase, as will expectations for them to perform. In the face of these challenges the government must clarify how it intends to use the levy and other measures to close the skills gap and thereby deliver successfully on its long- term plans and investments. Chris Wood, chief executive, Develop Training "The government needs to put cash behind training, but the Apprenticeship Levy may be little more than a stealth tax." "It is unclear how much, if any, cash will be targeted towards such essential training and development" Operations & Assets

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