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Government cuts lead to concerns over industry-wide skills shortage

The demise of the apprentice competition SkillFRIDGE, combined with a lack of proactive industry promotion to target students, could leave the industry facing a skills crisis as demand for engineering disciplines are predicted to rocket.

SummitSkills, the sector skills council for the building services engineering sector, which runs the SkillFRIDGE competition, had its budgets severely cut by the government and has therefore had to drop the national SkillFRIDGE competition, which promotes young talent, and the industry, to a wider audience.

Mark Forsyth, who acted as SkillFRIDGE lead judge, has called on businesses in the industry to fill the operating partner vacancy to revive the competition.

“What some in the industry may not understand is the wider impact of not having a competition. Without divulging what I discover during site inspections of rac systems, we have a serious skill shortage that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, or the consequences will be felt right across the board.

Meanwhile IOR president Graeme Maidment has called on businesses to open their doors to students for two weeks in June after lecturing at a careers convention recently.

“I held a presentation on the benefits and future opportunities for a career in engineering to 30 students. There was considerable interest and it’s fantastic that engineering is back on students’ radar as a career choice – according to various sources there is going to be a massive demand from the full range of engineering disciplines.”

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