Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120
WEDNESDAY 19 JUNE 2002
120. Have you had any contact since the Task
(Mr Kirby) I am not personally aware of any since
the Task Force report.
121. Could you quickly take me through how you
ensure that the skills mix and skills base within your organisation
is kept fit for purpose and how you might add value for people
to move on to other competences?
(Mr Kirby) Firstly, within the Task Force we did carry
out a comprehensive skills review of the workforce on the Clyde.
I think you also need to take into account the fact that we have
inherited many different things, including a skills mix and the
people we have in the two yards. As part of that review, shortfalls
in skills requirements over the next ten years and surpluses in
certain skills were shown. The task that we have now taken upon
ourselves really is to look for where we can make up the shortfalls,
where we can retrain and redeploy people. Indeed, we have undertaken
a quite significant training programme that is currently running,
for example, to retrain people with steel worker skills to become
qualified electricians and people with steel worker skills to
become qualified draughtspeople. That programme is costing, with
some support from the Scottish Executive, round about three-quarters
of a million pounds. That addresses some of the issues. We also
look to see how we can bring young people into the business and
indeed one thing we were very clear on last year was that even
though we had a huge problem of downsizing the business, we did
commit to taking young people into the business. Indeed, this
year we are taking more apprentices in than we did last year,
for example. We are taking graduates into the business. We cannot
make the mistake that happened in the early Nineties when shipbuilding
simply stopped recruiting young people, stopped apprentice training.
For the lifeblood of the business, we do need to inject young
people in and we are endeavouring to do that. It is something
you cannot change overnight. You obviously have a demographic
profile for a workforce and a skills requirement. It takes time
to work those things through. The Task Force was a very useful
opportunity to bring in additional views on how we should do that.
Certainly that was probably one of the key areas in the report
that did influence the way we are now doing that retraining of
people on the Clyde.
122. Have you increased trainers or people who
conduct training analyses and so forth? Do you contract that out
or is that paid for by the public purse?
(Mr Kirby) With the exception of some help from the
Task Force, those specifics I mentioned earlier, all training
is primarily funded in-house. There are grants and support as
you would expect but primarily it is internally funded. We use
all of those, our in-house people, local colleges and external
contracted out agencies.
123. The Task Force report refers to external
qualifications. It would be quite useful to know how much upskilling
is going on. Has there been any increase in the last short while
in terms of the size of the workforce which has some kind of validated
(Mr Kirby) I do not have the statistics as to whether
here has been an increase but certainly it is something we need
to encourage. Especially on the Clyde, attracting good young people
into shipbuilding is not easy to do, as we all understand because
of the historic factors. We do encourage giving that sort of opportunity
as a mechanism and making it attractive to people. We have people
doing sponsored degrees, for example, and sponsored HFEs within
124. Mr Kirby, I was interested in your comments
about retraining, in particular of apprentices. One of your trade
union colleagues in evidence to us said that the number of apprentices
BAE SYSTEMS are proposing for this year is shocking and that there
has been a reduction in the last few years. Is that accurate?
(Mr Kirby) I think you will find that comment was
made around some early data. We are recruiting more apprentices
this year than we have in recent years. I think you will find
off-line that we can take you through the statistics.
125. To follow on from that, the statistics
I have show that you have agreed to take on 50 and then 30 and
now it is down to 20. Can I emphasise that not everybody is a
university graduate. There are a lot of good people, particularly
round about the area of the yards, who leave school and are looking
for jobs and modern apprenticeships are very important. We need
this commitment, not just from yourself but from the Government
and others. Can we get this number back up to 50 and get these
modern apprentices into the business as they will be the future
of your company?
(Mr Kirby) I think the number, for the record, is
35. It is really an issue of having to bring people into the business;
we also have to look at retraining the skills mix we have in the
business. It is all part of the same solution, getting the right
skills for the next ten years. Certainly we fully support the
view that we need to take young people into the business, not
just graduates but skilled people who will be our lifeblood in
(Mr Phillipson) We have consistently in recent years
taken 30 to 40 apprentices and we are doing that again this year.
This is at craft level. To underline your point, we fully appreciate
that the vast majority of our workforce are not university graduates,
and long may it continue because I do not see too many university
graduates doing some of the jobs we need done.
126. You will be glad to know that we have now
reached the last question. Could you give us a quick assessment
of the future of employment in shipbuilding on the Clyde as you
(Mr Phillipson) Basically the outlook has not changed
from what we explained to the Task Force. At the moment, we are
close to our final decisions about the ending of the redundancy
programme that we started some time ago. In the next few weeks,
we will finally remove the uncertainty for the people who are
waiting for final decisions. We are very near the final decision
on closing that particular programme, which had a total of 1,000
in it. Beyond that, the outlook is very much as we described to
the Task Force. It very much depends on the success we have or
do not have in winning other business, in particular some export
programmes and the aircraft carrier, which are key to our longer
term future. There is nothing different from that. Work load forecasts
were presented in the Task Force report. That continues to be
a reasonably accurate view of the long-term future.
Chairman: Gentlemen, can I thank you very much
for coming this morning and for your full and frank answers. These
will be very useful to the Committee when we come to making our