EMPLOYERS in hi-tech industries around the Portsmouth area are being targeted by the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies.
The organisation is launching a scheme to help firms recruit apprentices to provide the next generation of engineers and scientists.
It says almost a third of those employed in the sectors Semta covers are aged over 45, so new blood is needed during the next 20 years when they retire.
Only seven per cent of employers in the manufacturing industry employ apprentices, despite government pleas for firms to take on more college and school-leavers.
Semta is working with the National Apprenticeship Service to launch Apprenticeship Ambition to double the number of higher level apprenticeship starts from 8,000 to 16,000 by 2016.
It has created its own apprenticeship service, which aims to strip down the bureaucracy, which is seen as a factor in why more firms aren’t taking on apprentices.
The organisation’s chief executive Philip Whiteman said: ‘Semta is urging engineering, technology and science businesses to consider their future skills needs – whether it is investing in training for existing employees, or gearing up to take advantage of growth opportunities by training new recruits.
Locally, Ed Derbyshire, managing director of Portsmouth satellite firm SSBV said apprentices are important to the industry. ‘We have to get them in,’ he said.
To find out more about apprenticeships visit semta.org.uk or contact Semta Customer Services on 0845 643 9001.