The recent Budget was certainly met by some mixed reactions. However, one aspect of the Budget – namely the apprenticeship levy – was greeted warmly by the industry. Carolyn Mason, ECA head of education and training, said, “Government efforts to boost apprentice numbers to three million are supported by the ECA. However, this must be combined with firm action to ensure training is rigorous and demanding. The ECA is keen to work with the government to ensure the apprenticeship levy helps improve the quality and quantity of apprenticeships for our young people.”

On the new apprenticeship levy, the chancellor, George Osborne, said, “While many firms do a brilliant job training their workforces, there are too many large companies who leave the training to others and take a free ride on the system.”

However, business leaders have warned that a government plan for an apprenticeship levy could lead to a major skills shortage in the UK because it would not create enough high skilled workers in the key manufacturing and construction sectors.

Katja Hall, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), commented, “The government has set out its stall to create a high skilled economy, but firms are facing a skills emergency now, threatening to starve economic growth.

“The new levy announced in the Budget may guarantee funding for more apprenticeships, but it’s unlikely to equate to higher quality or deliver the skills that industry needs.”

“The best way to plug the skills gaps and provide quality training is to speed up existing apprenticeships reforms already under way and encourage smaller firms to get involved.”

To help our readers keep pace with the latest technology on the market, we have included within this issue a Product Showcase, detailing the new products on the market in some of our key focus areas such as lighting, cabling and test & measurement.

Also in this issue we look ahead to some key September dates. The Sensors & Instrumentation Show will be taking place at the NEC, Birmingham on 30th September to 1st October, and will provide an excellent opportunity to find out all the latest developments from this rapidly evolving sector – full preview on page 19.

Also taking place at the NEC will be The Energy Event – the annual showcase of solutions that can make your business or organisation more energy efficient – full preview on page 14.

Joe Bush – Editor

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