Select Committee on Trade and Industry Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-62)



Mr Berry

  60. Given the importance you have attached to that it would be useful to us.
  (Mr Marshall) I think it has moved from being a cost to them to being a benefit, because the extra activity that it has generated they now see as earning them money.

  Mr Berry: Evidence on that would be even more interesting.

  Chairman: If you can give us a note on that that would be very helpful.

Sir Robert Smith

  61. One last matter, if the cycle turns and a lot of these things happen and you start to grow again do you see any problem in the skill base in the country in terms of being a barrier to your group?
  (Mr Maciver) I think that is a major concern at all levels, the availability of good quality engineers, the availability of properly educated, skilled people. There is very little future in this industry for people, there is no future for people in the industry of a low skill level, this is a highly skilled, high valued added industry. These people are absolutely crucial to us. It is not an issue today but in the worst circumstances that could be a factor in encouraging the industry to go elsewhere. The SBAC has given a great deal of attention to this where we have done a lot of work to encourage people into the industry. The short answer is, yes, it is an extremely important issue.


  62. Can I just finish with one last question, it is about the structure of the DTI, you are a national industry representing factories that are located in the regions of the country and the nations of the country. We see the DTI changing in character, a lot of its work is going to be devolved to regional offices. As a national industry spread across the country are you worried that there may be a lack of precision or a lack of ability to secure the funds, let us say in the North West, where there is a big concentration, or in the South West or Bristol, if one or two projects got all of the money that was available in either of these areas and that could conceivably disadvantage other players who would be looking for, let us say, support, finance, attention, even; have you looked at this issue at all in the context of the government's plans for the reform of the DTI?
  (Mr Marshall) The answer is yes, to your question, we have. We have been thinking about it. I think we are looking in the reform or in the new structure to still see a strong aerospace sector in the business support unit and we have been given assurances that that is going to happen. The new structure does not come into place and operation until the beginning of April. As far as the regional funding is concerned we are certainly very alive to the fact that, again, from next April, Regional Development Agencies will have more discretion on what they spend as opposed to being dictated centrally. There is an obvious concern in what you say, if you like, we are getting a kind of competition going or distortion going which is unhealthy. We certainly intend to work with the Regional Development Agencies to try to persuade them to have a joined-up view themselves, difficult as that may be, with the DTI. I think we are alive to it and I am pretty sure the DTI is as well. What we want out of this is the opportunity to feed the tree, if you like, fertilise it or feed it not to have yet more of these disaggregated boundaries, where things do not cross which should.

  Chairman: Thank you very much, we have had a pretty good session with you. You have given us a lot of information already. We look forward to receiving some amplification on one or two points.

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