New chairman of Semta announced

Allan Cook CBE (pictured), chairman of engineering design group, Atkins, is to be appointed chairman of employer led sector skills council Semta.

At Semta's May board meeting, Allan will take over from Sir Alan Jones of Toyota who has been chairman since 2006.

Philip Whiteman, chief executive of Semta, said that the appointment had been made at a 'very exciting and challenging time' for the UK science, engineering and manufacturing sector. He added: "We have a mismatch between the skills of the workforce and the business needs of traditional and emerging industries. As a senior industrialist, Allan brings a strong employer voice to guide and champion Semta as we simplify the skills landscape and help improve the skills and competitiveness of this vital sector."

Semta's simplified skills service was launched to improve access to quality training and funding. The service was unveiled on the back of Semta's 2010 UK Skills Report, which identified the need for almost 30,000 new highly skilled scientists and engineers a year between now and 2016. According to Semta, businesses working with its National Skills Academy for Manufacturing have seen, on average, a 6:1 ratio of return on their investment in skills.

Allan Cook said: "Science, engineering and manufacturing form the backbone of the UK economy so we need well educated, skilled people who have been suitably trained and are capable of working with today's technology as well as with the new and emerging technologies. We need a pipeline of young talent with theoretical and practical skills to step into the gap created by those employees retiring from industry.

"UK business needs talented, trained and capable employees if they are to survive and grow in today's competitive market. I look forward to building on the achievements of Sir Alan and the staff of Semta and in supporting those industries which are growing in importance to the country, such as life sciences and biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, nuclear, science, as well as our more mature industries. Working in partnership with other agencies, we can ensure employers are able to identify and address their specific skills gaps and training needs and so assist them to compete globally."

Prior to Atkins, Allan was chief executive of Cobham PLC, and previously held senior positions with GEC-Marconi, BAE Systems and Hughes Electronics. He was awarded a CBE in 2008.

Chris Shaw

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