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Val Kealey

Engineering employers urge apprenticeship body to retain qualifications 27/03/2017

As the Department for Education (DfE) is poised to transfer responsibility for apprenticeships to the new Institute for Apprenticeships on 6 April, engineering employers are urging the body to keep recognised qualifications a core feature of apprenticeship standards.

Ann Watson, chief executive of Semta, says: “The government’s original apprenticeship standard insisted only on one end test and no requirement for the apprenticeship to achieve a recognised qualification.  Engineering employers have argued and won the case for our industry to have continuous assessment and qualifications in our apprenticeships.  We must not lose this recognition as responsibility transfers.”

To support the employers’ case, Semta commissioned research into international best practice by Professor Lorna Unwin of UCL Institute of Education.  This showed that countries with leading apprenticeships – including Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands –  all have continual assessment and lead to qualifications.

Jo Lopes, Head of Technical Excellence at Jaguar Land Rover said:  “The Apprenticeship Levy is a great opportunity for manufacturing and engineering.  As an industry we have worked extremely hard to ensure the new apprenticeship standards work for employers, the apprentices and UK PLC. We are delighted the government has agreed that apprentices should receive a qualification which is recognised wherever they go in the world – and that this is achieved through constant assessment, evaluation and feedback. This gives employers confidence in the skills and ability of every apprentice.”

Professor Lorna Unwin said:  “It is clear from this research that if an apprenticeship is to have credibility and worth for both individuals and employers, it must end up with a recognised qualification.  And why would you have an apprenticeship without any formal assessment and feedback as part of that process?  Assessment is a critical part of learning and improving.”

Semta represents around 150,000 engineering employers, large and small and has been involved with the development of new apprenticeship standards through Trailblazer groups since 2014.  It has used its expertise in qualification and assessment to ensure apprenticeships meet employer needs. Its subsidiary, EAL, works with more than 700 recognised assessment centres across the UK.

The full report, The role of qualifications and end point assessment in apprenticeships: an international comparison can be downloaded from http://semta.org.uk/images/pdf/Role-of--Qualifications-and-End-Point-Assessment-in-Apprenticeships-March2017.pdf

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Driving home the training message 25/10/2013

I had the pleasure recently of attending the final of the RTITB (Road Transport Industry Training Board) Operator of the Year competition at RTITB's premises in Telford. On walking into the venue my first thought was that it was like something from a television game show – gargantuan geese, golden eggs and treasure ‘cheques’.

However, as soon as the competition started, all thoughts of frivolity vanished as it became apparent that what the 10 finalists were being asked to do demanded the highest level of skill and concentration.
The competition was established in 2008 to recognise and reward health and safety success in the field of lift truck operation and gives employers and RTITB-accredited training organisations the opportunity to show their commitment to safe, efficient and correctly trained lift truck operators.
Anyone without any real knowledge of what the job of a forklift operator entails probably has no concept of the thousands of pounds that it costs each year to replace the trucks, racking and damaged stock that stem from incorrect truck use nor, more importantly, the high injury rates that occur.
Speaking at the RTITB's post-final dinner, Jane Willis, director of the HSE’s Cross-cutting interventions directorate, said: "Last year, 20 men didn’t return home from work because they were killed in accidents involving workplace transport. We owe it to the families of those men to improve standards and safety.”
As Ryszard Janus, winner of this year's competition, says: "Forklifts are powerful and sometimes very dangerous machines and everybody who operates them should know the correct way to use the equipment. The first step is to obtain good quality training conducted by qualified people."
Congratulations to Ryszard, and indeed to all the highly skilled finalists, and to the RTITB for an entertaining competition that does so much to raise awareness of the need for correctly trained lift truck operators. 

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A glimpse of the future 02/05/2013

A recent press event, in addition to enabling me to learn more about KNX technology and the KNX UK Association, gave me the opportunity to visit The Crystal, which is a Sustainable Cities Initiative by Siemens....

The building itself was designed to achieve top scores in international assessments for energy-efficient buildings, and KNX intelligent building controls are playing a part in achieving this. One of the world's most sustainable buildings, The Crystal uses solar power, ground source heat pumps and LED lighting.


Located at the western end of the Royal Victoria Docks in East London, it is a fascinating place in which to spend time if you've got any interest in the development of our cities. Open to the public, an interactive exhibition guides visitors through the urban infrastructure of the future, focusing on possibilities for sustainable mobility, building technologies, power and water supplies, and healthcare.


By 2050, some 70% of us are expected to be city dwellers. If you think you're likely to be one of them, a visit to The Crystal offers an insight into what the urban future may have in store.

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Too few female engineers 18/04/2013

In the 21 years since IP&E was launched many new products have been developed and technology has evolved to meet the demands of the 21st century. However, what has changed very little is the number of women choosing a career in engineering....

The EEF recently published its first FTSE 100 Women in Manufacturing report. The study found that currently nine out of ten engineers in the UK are male and that since 2008 the number of female engineers has gone up by just 1% to 6%. The UK has fewer female engineers than almost anywhere else in the European Union.

Certainly in the past engineering was a physically demanding job that often entailed working in unpleasant conditions. With today’s equipment and the increased focus on health and safety, it is a very different environment. It is a far more level playing field; both men and women can enjoy an exhilarating career and be well rewarded.

The problem is how to get that message across to young women starting to think about life after school. The EEF has challenged manufacturers to get more apprentices and manufacturing graduates involved in going back into their schools and colleges to promote careers in industry. I hope that our female engineers will respond and go and spread the word that UK manufacturing is alive and well and that engineering offers a vibrant career path that is open to both men and women.

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Moving forward 26/02/2013

As Industrial Plant & Equipment’s 21st birthday approaches, we are pleased to reveal our dynamic new-look website.

In addition to a plethora of news, features, case studies, and details of new products and services, the site will feature blogs, videos and much more besides – clearly demonstrating IP&E’s commitment to moving with the times, while staying true to its original objectives of helping readers – through informative editorial and relevant advertising – to improve productivity and reduce downtime.


A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to make the site as user-friendly as possible. We hope you ike what you see and that you become a frequent visitor. Comments welcome.
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Val Kealey is an experienced b2b editor and has worked across a range of industrial titles including Plant & Works Engineering, Health & Safety Matters and Handling & Storage Solutions. In addition to the UK edition of IP&E, she currently edits Industrial Plant & Equipment Ireland, AirUser and The Essential Guide to Maintenance Management.

Val has a degree in Social Sciences from the Open University and, when not engrossed in IP&E, enjoys food, football and visiting France.