Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Shortfall in Basic Skills; Schools Must Do More, Says Nissan Boss

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

A Shortfall in Basic Skills; Schools Must Do More, Says Nissan Boss

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Rowley

N ISSAN'S manufacturing chief has said some of his recruits struggled with basic maths and engineering skills.

Trevor Mann, Nissan's vice president for manufacturing in Europe, claimed the company had to "redefine" its apprenticeship scheme to make up for the skills shortfall.

And he said he believes schools must do more to tackle the problem by encouraging young people to take up science and maths.

In an interview with The Journal, he said a perception that there was no future in the manufacturing sector had made youngsters less likely to take up the subjects.

While he stressed this was changing, he said "we need to change it more" by telling pupils they can have a "good future" in manufacturing.

While it is relatively easy for the company to recruit skilled engineers from university, he said it had more problems hiring semi-skilled workers, such as maintenance technicians.

The firm had to "work hard" on these recruits, growing its apprenticeship scheme to take on 25 people a year.

Nissan has enjoyed great success since moving to Sunderland 25 years ago, moving from producing 271,000 cars in 1999 to 480,000 last year.

It has also taken its rallying call to the region's young people, giving talks to 2,500 youngsters a year to encourage them to take science-based GCSEs.

Talking about the shortfall, Mr Mann said: "We've had some issue with some of the staff in terms of their basic maths and engineering skills. We had to redefine our apprenticeship scheme to overcome some of those issues. They weren't at the level that we required, but we're working with the Government on that issue."

The firm has worked closely with skills council Semta to tackle the skills gap.

Mr Mann said he hopes that more young people will see a bright future in manufacturing.

He added: "One of the most important things that we can do is point school children towards the STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and mathematics - to show them that you can have a good future in manufacturing and engineering.

"The more students that we get through those engineering and manufacturing subjects at school, the more choice we'll have in terms of moving people into manufacturing in the future. …

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