British industry deserves to feel as optimistic about the future as excited freshers heading to university, writes Dr Ralf Speth, Chief Executive Officer of Jaguar Land Rover in The Daily Telegraph
It is a great concern to Ralph Speth and others that as few as 6pc of that undergraduate intake will be studying engineering. Subjects such as social studies and biology still remain more popular, according to UCAS, (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service for the UK).
In its 2015 annual review, EngineeringUK concludes that, at all stages of education, the UK has neither the current capacity nor the required rate of growth needed to meet the forecast demand for skilled engineers by 2022. And we need those engineers. The time has come for Britain to close its academic deficit in engineering skills and training, Speth writes in the The Daily Telegraph.
Jaguar Land Rover is announcing the automotive industry’s first Academy, in partnership with the University of Warwick. This new institution will provide an accreditation framework for all of the education and training undertaken by our global workforce of 36,000, starting with our UK employees, Speth writes.
The Jaguar Land Rover Academy will set, we believe, new standards for lifelong learning and development – in which “we invest £100m a year,’’ Speth assures.
This initiative comes as Jaguar Land Rover is planning to increase its annualised R&D and capital spending programme to £3.5bn.
Given that Jaguar Land Rover accounts for one in five of all automotive industry jobs in the UK and more than 70pc of R&D spending in the sector, “we have to ensure that our training and skills are the best in the world. By doing so, the automotive industry as a whole could build on its economic contribution to UK PLC,’’ Speth comments.
The courses available will range from enhanced engineering programmes to postgraduate qualifications, including the company’s award-winning advanced and degree-level apprenticeships. Within a year, the curriculum will cover functional, business and management qualifications delivered by a range of leading institutions.
The return on investment from lifelong learning is clear. A better trained, more qualified workforce is more likely to produce vehicles that customers desire, delivering on our brand promise of cars that excite the senses.
The Jaguar Land Rover Academy is a step in the right direction, ensuring we maximise the benefits of our annual spending on technical and business skills.
If we do that, then British industry can feel as optimistic about the future as those 500,000 freshers entering their universities and colleges in the next few weeks, Speth concludes.