The soon-to-be ECA President is calling on the government to support the future of engineering.
Dave Kieft, Director and co-owner of RDM Electrical and Mechanical Services, will take the lead of the Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA) from May 2016. As president of the ECA, he will represent the interests of businesses within industries including electrical and building services engineering.
The Welshman, who started his career as an electrical engineer, is aiming to raise the profile of the building services sector as an important career path both in Wales and the UK through his role with the ECA, as well as promoting the importance of skills and training, and ensuring that routes into a building services engineering career remain open and viable for apprentices to enter the industry.
Through meeting with a number of career advisors over the past year, Dave claims it has become apparent that neither they nor students’ parents see engineering as an important career path, which he is determined to change. His focus is on ensuring that funds are directed at genuine apprenticeships and are spent in accordance with their needs to become qualified skilled engineers.
“Apprentices are currently too expensive for companies to train and nurture but if the government helped with the actual hourly costs of their employees, more apprentices could be trained and gain solid careers. This is clearly money well spent on deliverable and measurable outcomes.”
Speaking in his role as RDM Director, he said: “If the Welsh government assisted companies properly by helping them with the costs associated with apprenticeship programmes and training, more quality apprentices and skilled engineers would be created, who are the future of the engineering and construction industries in this country.
“Apprentices are currently too expensive for companies to train and nurture but if the government helped with the actual hourly costs of their employees, more apprentices could be trained and gain solid careers. This is clearly money well spent on deliverable and measurable outcomes.
“At present, the government is funding the wrong areas in the wrong manner. Many colleges are attracting funding but are not spending it on the training the industry needs. There are a number of companies in Wales driving economic growth and that are ready to work with government on pushing this agenda forward.”
From 4 January 2016, the average apprentice in the engineering sector will earn approximately £68191.50 over their four-year apprenticeship, which is their basic salary. This allows them to enter the workplace with a full set of sustainable skills. Many apprentices go on to higher education, but with a career path which is well paid and is no drain at all on government funding.
“On average our basic engineers based in South Wales earn in excess of £30,000 per annum as basic pay, and many earn a lot more than this,” Dave continued. “Compare this with the average graduate, who ends up with thousands of pounds of debt and no real life workplace experience, and who often drift into any job they can get, often with no association with the degree that they have, and it is clear why apprenticeships are the better option for some people. For those starting as adult trainees, the payments are even higher.
“Many people don’t realise this, which is why I want to highlight why doing an apprenticeship and securing a well paid career with longevity is worthwhile pursuing.”
Dave suggests some colleges have only provided apprenticeship training up to NVQ Level 2, and not the necessary education to reach NVQ Level 3, as this is the more advanced part of the course is too expensive to offer. This subsequently leaves a large number of students partially trained, with no way to complete their apprenticeship.
“The way educational institutions are managing themselves with regards to apprenticeships is simply unacceptable and it’s completely unfair on students,” said Dave. “We need to put the situation straight. The message needs to be spread out to everyone that the building services sector is incredibly important for the future of industry in this country and the government needs to step up to make sure that recognised apprenticeships are funded and supported correctly.”