Examination of Witnesses (Questions 60-62)|
MONDAY 4 FEBRUARY 2002
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
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.