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by Ben Kennedy
The boss of an international motor manufacturer has decided to go it alone with his own apprenticeship scheme after criticising the current system as being over-complicated.
SEM, who employ more than 180 people, will move to a new 122,500sqft headquarters at the Bridge science and business park in Dartford, bringing skilled jobs and engineering apprenticeships to the town.
Company chief Michael Laming has complained there are too many apprentice schemes in place making it difficult for employers to know where to look.
He is hoping to set up his own apprenticeship programme with the Leigh University Technical College who are also soon to open at the Bridge.
He said: “There are hundreds of schemes for apprentices. We just want one that we can go with.
“Whatever the scheme is today there will always be another one tomorrow. It is very political.
“You need to bring in a consultant to understand the rules and get what you want, which is bizarre. That can’t be right.
“That is why we are going to set up our own with Leigh UTC because we will understand that. Whether we get funding or not we will do it.”
A Department of Business, Innovation and Skills spokesperson said: “In the past, employers didn’t have enough say on the design and delivery of apprenticeships. We are determined to change that.
“We are also giving employers greater control over the funding for apprenticeships so that they can choose the best training to provide the skills that they need for their workforce.”
SEM designs and produces electric motors for industry sectors such as machine tools, renewable energy and robotics at its base in Orpington.
Their new Dartford headquarters is on schedule to complete by the end of the year.
Although the majority of SEM’s products are exported worldwide, they are set on keeping their manufacturing base in the UK.
Mr Laming said: “It probably doesn’t make economic sense to manufacture around London. We could get a government grant for doing it in the North East but then we wouldn’t have our staff.”
In light of the move, Dartford Borough Council leader Jeremy Kite said: “We are delighted to welcome SEM to the Bridge.
“The company not only has the potential to bring many skilled jobs to the town, but since it also supports engineering apprenticeships, it can offer a range of new opportunities for young people.”
The KM Group wants to get 100 businesses to take on an apprentice through its Kick Start Kent campaign.
For information about taking on an apprentice, visit www.KentBusiness.co.uk/KickStartKent or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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