The Government and local employers must invest in apprenticeships if they want to close the region's yawning skills gap, it has been claimed.
The Midlands branch of manufacturing lobby group the Engineering Employers Federation has renewed its plea as the Adult Learning Inspectorate praised it for its continued backing of apprenticeships through its Technology Centre in South Birmingham.
The ALI report said the centre and its learners significantly benefited.
EEF Technology Centre was also praised for the quality of training it provided.
The centre trains and develops apprentices who come straight from school or college either via school links, careers fairs, the Engineering Connections website or local advertising, as well as Advanced Apprentices who are employed by a company.
At present the site in Tyseley is training more than 200 apprentices in engineering and manufacturing skills.
The centre invested in additional training resources and facilities throughout 2005 to continue to offer employers, apprentices of the highest quality.
Peter Winebloom, general manager of EEF Technology Centre, said: "We are pleased that the ALI report has recognised the quality of training provided here and the dedication of the staff.
"Around 70 per cent of all apprentices in Birmingham & Solihull are trained at the centre and we have an excellent relationship with employers and FE Colleges in the area.
"EEF West Midlands took the decision a few years ago to invest heavily in skills development as we watched with alarm the decline in the number of companies investing in apprentice training, and the fact that fewer and fewer young people were choosing engineering as a career.
"Many companies are seeing the average age of their workforce increase dramatically. It is quite clear that companies are holding on to their older workforce in order to retain key skills.
"At the same time, training apprentices is an expensive process, and often difficult to justify for companies where cost reduction programmes and redundancies are a regular part of the business planning process.
"But sooner or later these older workers will retire and companies will have no-one to replace them.
"We need our younger workers, trained using the new technologies, to support our businesses as they compete in a global society."
* An initiative was launched yesterday to provide people with free, independent information on pensions through their workplace.
PensionsForce, which is backed by £250,000 of Government funding, is being co-ordinated by the National Association of Pension Funds, working in partnership with the EEF and trade Community.
The project aims to help increase awareness of the need to plan for retirement and put people in the position to make informed choices about their pension. ..SUPL: