MANUFACTURING BUSINESSES say more must be done to promote alternative career routes to youngsters.
It comes as business secretary Vince Cable announced a £1 rise in minimum pay for 16 and 17-year-old apprentices, aimed at boosting wages for 31,000 workers and making the scheme more attractive to schoolleavers.
Figures from the Department of Business, Industry and Skills (BIS) show a slow rise in the number of manufacturing apprenticeships started in the region in recent years.
A total of 7,560 apprenticeships were in engineering and manufacturing technologies were started in 2012/2013, compared to 7,300 in 2007/2008.
Industry and education institutions in Yorkshire are now working together to drive up the number and quality of youngsters entering manufacturing, as the sector faces “the grey cliff” skills challenge.
Darron SBO head of quality control Denis Smith said: “The industry globally is facing difficulties as skilled workers retire and there’s no-one there to replace them.
“We’re putting significant investment into training and, when we find good engineers, making sure we keep them.”
The company produces equipment primarily used in deep-sea oil and gas operations. Of its 120 employees at its Rotherham site, 17 are apprentices.
Darron SBO is one of a number of manufacturers in South Yorkshire that has partnered with the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Training Centre, which provides employer-sponsored training in a fully-equipped workshop setting.
Mr Smith says more should be done at school level to promote alternative routes to a career.
DFS head of manufacturing Harvey Ellis, who is responsible for its factories in Adwick-le-Street, Alfreton and Long Eaton, said many young people “seem to not want to work in factories”.
The company offers apprenticeships in upholstery, as well as providing entry-level jobs across cutting and sewing. It also invests heavily in training and progression for its employees.
DFS is working with local schools to promote opportunities in the company and is “always supportive” of government initiatives to attract the next generation into manufacturing.
Mr Ellis said: “It’s a career, it’s not just a job.”