Employers may struggle to make the most of the opportunities created by Jaguar Land Rover’s major new engine plant because of a lack of skilled workers, an MP has warned.
West Midlands manufacturers will be offered work supplying goods and services to the car giant – but they are struggling to recruit skilled apprentices.
The warning was issued in the House of Commons by Black Country MP Adrian Bailey (Lab West Bromwich West), chairman of the influential Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee.
It follows the announcement that Tata Motors, owners of Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), is to open an engine plant creating up to 2,000 jobs on the i54 business park in Wolverhampton, in a move that will provide a boost to the economy across the entire West Midlands.
Mr Bailey told Ministers: “Tata has invested £300 million in Jaguar Land Rover in a site to the north of Wolverhampton, with enormous employment potential locally.
“The concern within the industry is that the extended supply chains of small and medium-sized enterprises that could service JLR may have a shortage of skilled apprentices, and I have already mentioned the potential need for capital investment to improve the capacity to meet the demand from JLR.
“I have no doubt that JLR will attract all the people it needs, because it is a high-paying iconic company that is very attractive to everybody.
“It will be the SMEs in the area that will need to recruit, and we need to expand our vocational skills base to ensure that that happens.”
He was speaking in a House of Commons debate dedicated to discussing how the Government could support manufacturing.
Solihull MP Lorely Burt (Lib Dem) called for closer collaboration between employers and schools, so that children learnt about the possibility of working in manufacturing and could choose to take courses giving them the skills they would need.
Chris White (Con Warwick and Leamington) suggested that a Minister in the Department for Business should be given responsibility specifically for supporting manufacturing.