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    NAA Update February 2012 Carol Holden CEO

    This month Carol invites companies who have their own in-house scheme for higher level apprentices, or who would be interested in having a higher apprentice, to speak to her, as well as reporting on the recent visit to India, and new NAA board members

    I am writing this during National Apprenticeship week, which is very appropriate considering the success that the NAA has had in its bid for money to develop Higher Apprenticeships specifically for the local Automotive Industry from the National Apprenticeship Service. Also, Christine Gaskell, who is Director of Personnel for Bentley Motors and chair of the Cheshire and Warrington LEP, has received an MBE in the New Years Honours List for her work with apprentices; well done Christine!

    If you already have your own in-house scheme for higher level apprentices or would be interested in having a higher apprentice, then please speak to me. I expect I will be covering an aspect on apprenticeships in nearly every issue this year, so it isn’t just flavour of the week, it will also be of the month and the year! It is important to us all, as every company (large and small) says that they have challenges recruiting and that they have an ageing workforce. These two factors combined mean that one of the prime approaches needs to be to “grow-your-own” though apprentices. The government has also placed apprentices as a high priority and this week has announced additional support for SMEs of £1500 for those who take an apprentice and haven’t done so for the last three years. It is a fixed pot of money, so the sooner you decide to act, the higher the chance of getting this incentive.

    I am also hearing in advance about knowledge of additional funding to help develop skills in companies – I will keep you informed.

    It hardly seems possible that less than a month ago Martin and I were both in India with four of our companies. After attending AutoExpo, Barbara Singleton and I continued with the four companies for a visit to Pune. We had the opportunity to visit the new assembly line for the Freelander, which was very interesting and they are achieving their objective that the quality levels must be as good as, if not better than, Freelanders assembled in Halewood. While the companies were visiting the contacts that had been set up for them via UKTI and UNIDO, I had the opportunity to visit three companies in the Pune region who have benefitted from the UNIDO SPX supplier development programme (it is based upon the VW supplier development model). I was very impressed by the companies I visited and they were able to demonstrate significant improvements from the support that they have received from UNIDO. All three companies were TS16949 accredited and either had, or were working towards, ISO14001 and OHSAS 18001. We also benefitted from a networking evening with the local Chamber of Commerce; the aim being to build the relationship between NAA and the Chamber to make it easier for companies from both locations to do business with each other; again, I am sure that I will be covering more on this in the coming months.

    This week we have welcomed three new members to our Board: John Ellis from MWS Distribution, Peter Carter from Camcoat Performance Coatings, and Clare Farnworth from Xemptor. They are all from SMEs and represent a cross-section of companies. Watch out in the coming months for more information on both their companies and also their In-The-Driving-Seat articles. We are always on the look-out for articles to publish about companies in the region and especially your successes, you don’t even have to write the article yourself, just be prepared to have a discussion with our editor and he will write it for you – what could be easier?

    Carol Holden

    Chief Executive NAA

    European Regional Development Fund Northern Powerhouse
    Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham