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Energy

Apprenticeships - Gaps or Shortages?

Report Segment: Gaps or Shortages

It is worth dwelling on the value of apprenticeships in terms of skills supply and demand. Skills gaps can be seen as akin to a precision tool whilst addressing skills shortages is seen as more of a scatter gun approach. Apprenticeships result from a skills shortage, but because the trainee is employed by the business, the shortage turns into a skills gap apprenticeships can therefore also be viewed as a precision tool in fact they can offer a perfect model of supply and demand. The recently published Wolf Report Review of Vocational Education (March 2011), recommends a simpler model of apprenticeship delivery, with less of a role for intermediaries, and a more direct relationship between employer and training provider (as is familiar in the rest of Europe). On the basis that substantial savings could be made in simplifying the delivery model, employer subsidies are also recommended.

Skills Type DescriptorMoving into sectorCurrently in sectorMoving "beyond" the sectorPre-work
Generic technical skills (80%) These underpin the specialist skills, providing the foundation for entrants and their long-term career development. They can be considered the 80% of required generic technical skills whereas the upskilling needs above fit into the 20% of skills required. Teaching of underlying principles and practices can involve the tools and technologies of the moment: COVES; national skills academies; and UTCs have all provided funding for new equipment to be purchased by an FE provider, thus enabling the training facilities to keep (relatively) up to date.Generally these skills will have been gained at college or university or through a work based learning programme such as an apprenticeship. But informal knowledge gained without a specific qualification may help - and short specialist courses (see below), may be suficient to gain competence and keep up to date with technical developments.  Will find it difficult to get into the sector without these technical underpinning skills. Older workers may have significant informal skills and experience to mitigate against this.
Upskilling specialist technical skills (20%) Typically short courses meeting immediate technical and professional needs perhaps driven by a project requirement or newly purchased equipment. These specialist skills are continually evolving and need frequent updating. Often the training is sourced from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Many companies will recruit based on the 80% generic skills base as long as the right attitude and competence are present. However for some contracts, having the right specific skills will be essential for getting the job - there will be no time to train people before the contract starts. Upskilling short courses are an essential of CPD/CTD for those already working in the energy sector. For example learning about new wind turbine nacelles or new drilling techniques will be critical.  Not generally available for young pre-work students.
       
Transferable Skills (between different sectors) More general work and life skills vital for the work place, which may be taken from job to job but which require refreshing for each new career step. Vital transferable skills include both interpersonal skills (e.g. communication, teamwork, learning) and business acumen (e.g. finance, marketing, management, customer care).Moving from technician to a management role in a wider sectoral context will mean its essential to pick up generic communication/management skills - which are often difficult to assimilate 'on the job' (especially if its currently a 'technical' role). Some of these skills will be learned at the pre-work stage (e.g. interperonsal skills) whilst others will form part of a CPD programme.
       
  CPD = Continuing professional development    
  CTD = Continuing technical development