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South West Water wins training cash as Tomorrow's Engineers Week starts

South West Water has secured government funding for a training initiative to help it cope with retirement of skilled staff over the next decade.

The utility fund will receive state support for the £250,000 project, which is the first to come through the government’s £30M engineering careers vehicle the Employee Ownership Fund.

The award was announced by business secretary Vince Cable at the start of the national Tomorrow’s Engineers Week.

Four in 10 operations staff at South West Water could retire over the next 10 years, so the company is working to ensure it retains capacity to deliver current service levels.

The firm’s three-year training programme, which will start in January, will support:

  • Career progression training for engineers
  • Re-skilling and up-skilling employees
  • Conversion training from other occupations within the business, and creation of pathways for technician or engineering professionals to chartered status. 

A total of 86 existing South West Water employees are expected to take part, including engineering technicians in waste water, drinking water, operational services and engineering.

Cable said: “A strong British engineering sector lies at the heart of sustainable economic recovery. That’s why we have joined forces with industry to secure the pipeline of talented and skilled engineers UK industry needs. Tomorrow’s Engineers Week is about ensuring that each and every young person across the country is aware of the exciting future they could have as an engineer.”

South West Water chief executive Chris Loughlin said: “Just as we plan our infrastructure requirements many years ahead, it’s important to ensure we have a steady supply of trained talent for tomorrow. We’re delighted to have secured this extra funding. It will help us to develop a new generation of engineers and technical staff, opening up some exciting new career opportunities.”

Meanwhile, the Institution of Engineering and Technology has recruited female engineering role models to visit schools and promote careers in the sector.

The IET is also calling on MPs across the UK to sign its pledge to encourage local businesses to work with schools and colleges in their constituencies as part of Tomorrow’s Engineers week.

IET president William Webb said: “Engineering and science university applications have increased this year, but it’s important to ensure that these applications translate into future engineers.”

Vince Cable

Vince Cable

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