Comments made by Tanuja Randery, president of UK and Ireland, Schneider Electric
“The chancellor faced some tough calls as he looked to balance the need to bolster UK investment to stimulate growth, whilst finding an additional £4bn in savings. However, more could have been done to address the UK’s ability to train, recruit and retain skilled people to drive innovation.
“It’s a shame that the apprenticeship bill remained unchanged in today’s budget, missing a crucial chance to deliver meaningful impact in productivity and learning. I’d like to have seen updates to the bill to create more of a partnership with businesses and incentives for the investment in the long-term skills and future of the UK workforce. If the levy is to deliver meaningful impact in the areas of productivity and learning, more must be done to ensure the apprenticeships are focused on the areas of skills shortages, with businesses given more room to influence the qualifications available through the programme.
“Without a real focus on addressing the ever-widening skills gap, the UK will fall behind in the global economic race. Today, technology is no longer a challenge. There are tools and solutions available that can drive efficiency in our homes and commercial buildings, automation can strengthen production and drive down costs in our industrial plants and smart grid technology can help integrate renewables into our grid to ensure consistency of supply. But without the right skills, none of these projects or their benefits can be realised.”
“The government and private sector must come together to forge a plan to develop, attract and retain a diverse skill set if we are to win the war for talent. This means revitalising the UK’s apprenticeship programmes, upskilling existing workforces and encouraging students to pursue careers in the STEM subjects. At Schneider Electric, we’ve committed to offering over 50 UK apprenticeships each year to 16 to 25 year olds as well as a partnership with the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) to support the continued professional development of our engineers and technicians.
“Investment in skills today will pay dividends for generations to come, enabling the UK to harness the technological innovations to deliver projects that improve business and communities and deliver economic growth.”