1. ITV Report

Top businesses warn lack of skills could threaten economic recovery

Top businesses warn a shortage in skills could threaten an economic recovery. Photo:

Some of our high-tech businesses are warning that a shortage of skilled staff could threaten an economic recovery. Melbourne Scientific in Cambridgeshire says they can not expand as fast as they would like, due to a lack of candidates with the right skills.

"We are growing and recruiting so we are constantly looking for good candidates. What we see very often is candidates who have a lot of academic ability who are keen and intelligent people, but they lack the skills and technical awareness that we need."

– Mark Parry, Melbourn Scientific

The company say they would love to see more applicants with high quality apprenticeships or technical qualifications. They are not the only business with this problem.

"The East of England has the most innovative companies and they are working on new products, new services, but these growth ambitions are being restricted by their inability to find skills. So we need to find more young people to take up science, engineering and maths and we also need to break down this perception that manufacturing is nothing more than greasy overalls."

– Verity O'Keefe, Engineering Employers Federation

Central Bedfordshire University Technical College in Houghton Regis say misconceptions about greasy overalls is a real problem in recruiting students.

Newly opened in September, the UTC stresses it is a technical not a vocational college, with courses designed by local employers like British Aerospace which will be partly taught by staff from Cranfield University.

"Our courses are really tough. Our current post 16 students do an extended diploma and that one engineering course is worth 3 A -levels. They do other A-levels on top. These are the best courses to get them into university or higher apprenticeships."

– Sarah Driscoll, Central Bedfordshire UTC

University Technical Colleges are a new type of school, Central Bedfordshire University Technical College is only the fifth in the country and the first in the East. More are due to open in Norfolk, Northamptonshire and Cambridge next year.