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April 7, 2017

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Whitepaper: Effective Techniques for Robust OT Security

security skills crisis

Parliamentary report flags concerns about technical skills shortage

A new parliamentary report is urging the government to prioritise efforts to get young people to take up apprenticeships in sectors requiring higher value technical skills, such as electrotechnical.

Electrotechnical skillsets are required in a range of security industry professions, including access control, retail security and fire safety alarm systems and CCTV engineering.

The electrical industry and its various sub-sectors faces a skills shortage, according to the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA), which recently conducted a survey of its members and found that nearly half all businesses participating expect to see a skills shortage from 2018.

ECA’s director of employment and skills Alex Meikle said: “It’s widely accepted that engineering disciplines, such as electrotechnical, face an ongoing skills shortage. This threatens to derail broader government efforts to develop a highly skilled, highly paid workforce.”

The ECA provided written evidence to the inquiry which produced the report, stating that government apprenticeship funding policy risked targeting investment at short duration, lower value apprenticeships, which are easier to deliver, rather than technical, longer duration, higher value apprenticeships.

Supporting the ECA’s assertion, the report has found that the ‘the current balance of [apprenticeship funding] provision is skewed towards sectors with low wage returns and few skills shortages’.

“Engineers of tomorrow”

“We urge the government to ensure SMEs have the funding they need to train up the electricians and engineers of tomorrow,” said Meikle.

The apprenticeships report was compiled by a joint inquiry of the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee and the Education Committee, led by Hartlepool MP Iain Wright and Stroud MP Neil Carmichael.

The ECA is the UK’s largest trade association representing electrical, electrotechnical and other engineering contractors, from regional to European level. Member companies are rigorously assessed before membership is approved.

The fire and security industry appears to have woken up to the grave consequences if the skills crisis is left unaddressed.

A ground-breaking apprenticeship standard for the fire and security sector was launched a few weeks ago. And John Battersby, MD of Sunfish Services, recently argued on this site that a formal engineering qualification was key to remedying the problem.

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