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Thursday, 02 July 2015

Company is investing in talent in Cumbria for the long term

SIEMENS Subsea – one of Cumbria’s largest employers – is aiming to stay at the top of its game by putting a big emphasis on investing in its talented young apprentices.

Siemens has a strong presence in the North West, employing more than 2,000 people including 420 at its state-of-the-art plant in Ulverston.

However one of the firm’s big bosses has said the key to maintaining and expanding its Cumbrian presence lies in investing in apprentices, and training talented young members of staff.

The Ulverston business prides itself on its position as a world-leading manufacturer and to keep at the top of its game means a continuous investment in existing and future talent.

Wayne Singleton, human resources business partner for Siemens Subsea, revealed to Energy Cumbria what he sees as the challenges and opportunities in meeting the needs of the thriving and growing business.

How is Siemens addressing the skills gap?

“Training and development and long term staff retention is a number one business priority and core cultural element of our business ethos.

“The region faces a major engineering skills shortage and we need to take a holistic and long term approach to managing how we will meet needs in the future. We know that we need to invest in existing employees as well as new employees.

“We have been successful to date – over half of our workforce has over five years service, but we do not rest on our laurels. We have to invest in our long term future talent pipeline.”

How important are apprenticeships to the success of the business?

“Siemens has a much-prized apprenticeship scheme across the UK, with around 400 apprentices on the current scheme. With the new intake of 13 in September there will be 36 apprentices on the scheme in Ulverston at various stages.

“Apprentices are integral to the business and given responsibility from the earliest days on the factory floor and across all areas of the business.

“Factory tours are also often led by the apprentices, who show the many visitors to the site each year how the subsea connectors and other products are designed, manufactured and distributed to Subsea’s global customer base.

“Siemens is also pioneering Higher Apprenticeships, and was in fact one of the first major manufacturers in the UK to focus on this group of school leavers. In 2012 the Manchester based Siemens Energy Transmission business brought in seven Higher Apprentices.

“Siemens Subsea is piloting its first Higher Apprenticeship programme in its engineering and technical department this September, and the successful candidate will start alongside the 13 other apprentices joining the programme.”

How do you develop current employees?

“The team is currently working on a programme of development for employees with current, or future, supervisory or management responsibility.

“Over 30 employees are earmarked to study NVQ qualifications through the Institute of Leadership and Management; around eight managers will be supported in undertaking the level 5 Chartered Management Institute qualification, and eight employees will undertake an NVQ in storage and warehousing.

“Dozens of employees took part in the Keswick to Barrow walk – and many similar activities have happened or are planned.”

Do you collaborate with other businesses?

“It isn’t just about Siemens as a business. It is about the success of manufacturing and engineering for the whole region. Other local employers face similar skills challenges and so it requires a collaborative approach.

“Siemens works closely with other engineering organisations and businesses to address the skills gap, including STEM (science, technology, engineering and manufacturing) and talent management initiatives.

“It also plays an active role in the local business community to help promote the region and encourage inward investment. The Barrow Engineering Project is a good example of this collaboration.

“This was set up by the Royal Academy of Engineering originally to encourage young people in Barrow to consider roles in Engineering, and has had a fairly profound impact over the course of the last five years.

“Companies like Siemens and BAE have been actively involved and there is no doubt about the impact of the programme in raising awareness and interest in engineering. This is a great example of collaboration between public and private enterprise.

“The BEP was the main driver behind the Furness Education & Skills Partnership. The FESP has been effective in encouraging young people to consider STEM subjects. In the five years since it was established it has provided over 25,000 opportunities for local student participation in engineering activities, involving over 30 employers, including BAE Systems Submarine Solutions, Siemens, GSK, Vattenfall and many others.”

What’s in store for the future?

“Our business is successful and growing and we will continue to invest in the future – in our infrastructure, products, innovation and most importantly our people.

“Everyone recognises that Cumbria has a rich industrial heritage as well as its wonderful lakes and countryside.

“The region has great potential and we will continue to play our part in promoting the manufacturing and engineering credentials of the area to the next generation of employees.

“We are very proud to be here.”


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