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EEF leads Red Tape Challenge for manufacturers

28 July 2011

Manufacturing companies are being urged to get involved in the government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ (RTC) and start to dismantle some of the barriers holding them back from growing their businesses. The Engineering Employers' Federation (EEF) is helping to spearhead the two week campaign through its chief executive, Terry Scuoler (pictured), who will act as sector champion.

Commenting on the Challenge and his role, Terry Scuoler, said: “The growth in regulation has plagued business for a long time. But by getting involved in the Red Tape Challenge, companies now have a real opportunity to help turn the tide. By telling government how regulations are affecting them, how they could be improved and where they should be scrapped, they can help to start dismantling a key barrier to growing their businesses and our economy.” 

The RTC is a government initiative designed to help deliver on its commitment to cut the burden of regulation weighing down on the economy. Businesses are being invited to tell the Government, through a dedicated website, which regulations are justified and which are not.

Once businesses have made their contribution, the Government has committed to working out within three months which regulations will be kept and why. Crucially, the default presumption will be that regulations, that cannot be justified, will go. If Ministers want to keep them, they will need to make the case for them to stay.

EEF is also lobbying for reduced, simplified and more effective regulation in a number of areas covered by the RTC such as Environmental policy, such as the considerable scope for consolidation in waste and packaging regulation.

Similarly, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive has been implemented in the UK through a succession of regulations amending and adding to the provisions of the original European legislation. Consolidating them into a single piece of regulation would make the requirements easier and less time consuming to understand.

Other areas that should be simplified include health & safety, employment law and company law. Manufacturers feeling the burden of regulation are encouraged to participate, but you only have until August 4.

Meanwhile, Anne Watson, head of specialist awarding organisation, EAL (EMTA Awards Limited) suggests several other issues that manufacturers might care to mention in their submissions. These include:

National Insurance exemption for a firm’s first 10 apprentices 
“We run the risk of a shortage in the number of skilled workers as smaller firms struggle to carry the costs of taking on apprentices.  SMEs are the backbone of our manufacturing industry, but need financial incentives to be able to invest in training. The Government would do well, for example, to offer an NI exemption for the first 10 apprentices 
Skilled industries require more than a ‘one size fits all’ apprentice framework
“The Government’s recent move to introduce a standard apprentice framework across all sectors could be damaging to skilled industries.  A standardised approach to delivering apprenticeships may seem less bureaucratic, but will ultimately leave skilled apprenticeships in sectors such as manufacturing with less time to learn vital skills which until now has been part of the course. Engineering and manufacturing are flagship sectors and their bespoke training needs must be recognised.”
Promote apprenticeships as equal to degrees
“The Government recently launched the Apprentice Card – a valuable step towards achieving parity between academic and vocational education. While this is a definite step in the right direction, to radically alter the perception of skills education the Government must continue to keep vocational education firmly on the Department for Education’s agenda to ensure that schools deliver clear, unbiased advice.  The message to students needs to be that opportunities exist in both sectors.”
Barriers to Work Experience
“The raft of current health and safety regulation is a major stumbling block to introducing young people to the manufacturing sector. Schools need to fill in so many risk assessment forms before their students can visit a factory, or undertake work experience that it’s easier just not to do it. But, without this on-site experience of manufacturing, we’re going to fail to generate interest in an exciting sector which needs new blood to take it forward now and in the future.”  
Educate the educators
“We hope the National Careers Service being launched next year will help provide unbiased careers advice in schools; currently schools have little understanding of, or contact with, the vocational sector which is having a negative impact on young people entering industries such as manufacturing.
“Teachers need to include parents when advising students on the available options at 14 and post 16, and must look broader than an academic qualification.  By radically re-educating across the generations, we stand a chance of successfully altering the perception of vocational education in this country.
Learn from success
“While the Government’s Memorandum of Understanding with China is a step in the right direction at knowledge-sharing with manufacturing superpowers, more needs to be done from an earlier stage. Countries such as Germany, which have a strong manufacturing sector, are hailed as economic success stories, but they can only achieve this because of their high apprenticeship figures. The German model is the envy of most of the Western world but this success is not an accident. The German school system is geared to delivering students with a mix of skills, and young people are actively encouraged to pursue the vocational route from an earlier age. The UK could do well to learn from this model.”

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