Rover’s collapse highlights lack of investment in apprenticeships

Under-investment in engineering apprenticeships in the UK has exacerbated the impact of car maker Rover’s collapse, according to recruitment experts.

The lack of a common set of easily transferable engineering skills among Rover workers means that many of the 6,000 workers are unable to switch straight into available positions in the UK’s thriving aerospace sector.

Nick Sullivan, director at recruitment firm Wynnwith Engineering, said: “Apprenticeships teach the base, cross-sector engineering skills that facilitate engineers to retrain and transfer between industry sectors.

“Too many engineers in the UK acquire all their skills in one field of expertise making their employment options far less flexible.”

Global competition means companies will collapse, but this becomes a long-term problem when the staff cannot switch quickly enough to another engineering sector job in the UK, Sullivan said.

“In addition to the short-term skills’ constraint, the UK can look forward to a long-term shortage of people with technical skills,” he said.

“Until we tackle the ineffective promotion of engineering in schools and the low levels of apprenticeship programmes then we are going to find it hard to fully plug this skills gap.”

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