ESCO gains approval for first Trailblazer Apprenticeship

ESCO is pleased to announce that its first Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standard has been approved by the Skills Funding Agency, subject to minor drafting modifications.

The Apprenticeship Standard, for the role of Embedded Systems Development Engineer, will require apprentices to achieve a degree to complete the course. Candidates will be recruited by companies at the end of their A-level course and will go to university in the usual way, completing additional vocational training in the university vacation periods over Christmas, Easter and the summer. The vocational training will consist of a combination of formal training provided by training companies and on the job training working within the companies themselves.

Peter Brooks, ESCO CEO, commented: ‘I am delighted that ESCO has achieved this milestone.  As a pioneer in the drive to extend the reach of apprenticeships to include A-Level entry university students we believe passionately that this will reduce the time before these students can expect to achieve their ultimate career roles and prepare them to add value to their employers significantly sooner after their graduation’.

Graeme Philp, ESCO Council member and CEO of GAMBICA, said: ‘ESCO is currently looking for industry partners to collaborate in the development of the next set of new standards for the electrotechnical industry.  By acting in a coordination role, we aim to help groups of like-minded companies develop their Apprenticeship Standards in a timely and resource efficient manner.’

Any businesses in the electronic and electrical community with an interest in employing apprentices and with an interest in helping to shape the new Trailblazer Apprenticeship Standards, are asked to contact ESCO at

ESCO takes a lead in driving new apprenticeships forward

Many companies will have seen the various announcements in the apprenticeship area – Trailblazers, the Levy and so on, but will be unclear as to how these issues affect them and what they can and indeed should be doing about it.

There are several areas that need to be considered:

  • all existing apprenticeship frameworks will be discontinued in the fairly near future and must be replaced by Trailblazer apprenticeship standards. If you employ apprentices you need to make sure that you can still do so in the future.
  • the Levy – a tax for all companies on their payroll costs charged at 0.5% of anything above £3m pa. For a lot of companies this will be a significant cost – how are you going to recoup it?
  • SME companies which probably won’t pay the Levy but still employ apprentices – what will the funding system be for your company?

ESCO can help answer all of these and work with you to ensure that your company maximises the benefits of the apprenticeship system. To find out how, contact ESCO at or complete the enquiry form here

ESCO launches Smart Manufacturing Living Laboratories project

ESCO announced today its proposal for the Smart Manufacturing Living Laboratories, a project to boost productivity, inspire ambition, develop skills and capability in manufacturing and industry. The project budget is for £30m over 5 years, using a matched funding model with 50% coming from industry and 50% from government.

The launch of the Smart Manufacturing Living Laboratories project follows the successful launch of the Industry 4.0 demonstrator at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry in 2014.

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The proposal is for the UK to create and utilise three regional Smart Manufacturing Living Laboratories with a focus on:
 Improving productivity – Manufacturers and industry developing and adopting smart manufacturing methods
 Inspiring ambition – demonstrating the “art of the possible” to stimulate and promote smart manufacturing excellence in the UK and tackle the barriers to technology adoption.
 Developing skills – Training, education and professional engineering development for apprentices, students and professionals
 Developing capability – Automation, robotics and technology research, development and testing

We are now looking to engage with other industry bodies in order to broaden the industry support as well as engaging with the Department for Business, Skills and Innovation (BIS) to help build the case for the matched funding support from government.

The project has already received confirmation of support from twenty businesses in the UK but we are, of course, looking to gain support from as wide a group of businesses as possible, especially from end-user partner / manufacturing organisations. At this stage, we are not looking for commitment to a formal contribution of a specific value, but simply an intent to participate and a demonstration of support, until a firm proposal is agreed.

For more information, see Smart Manufacturing Living Laboratories Proposal

If you are interested in supporting the project, please contact us via this website or email

BIS consultation now open on the business impact target, growth duty and Small Business Appeals Champion

A consultation has been launched by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills to seek views on the regulators, and regulatory functions that should be brought into scope of the Business Impact Target, the Growth Duty and the Small Business Appeals Champion, as well as the guidance relating to both the Growth Duty and the Champion.

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act of 2015 committed future Governments to publishing a target for deregulation, the Business Impact Target, over the life of each Parliament.

Extending the Business Impact Target to capture the regulatory activities of national regulators will ensure that the impact on business is always considered. This, together with the Better Enforcement Programme, comprising of the Regulators’ Code, the Growth Duty and the Small Business Appeals Champion, will support a positive shift in the way regulation is delivered.

To read more about the consultation and how to respond, click here

The closing date for responses is Thursday 17 March.

Reducing regulation: National Audit Office consultation for businesses

The National Audit Office is currently consulting businesses and civil society organisations (CSOs) on the Better Regulation Executive’s approach to reducing regulatory burdens.

In detail, they are interested in your insights and evidence on the following:

  1. What, in your experience, are the costs and benefits of regulations?
  2. How does regulation impact on your organisation?
  3. Do departments and regulators consult your organisation when measuring and evaluating the actual impact of regulation?

The consultation will inform an ongoing study into reducing regulation and they will use your input to

  • better understand the nature of regulatory burden and benefits experienced by businesses and CSOs
  • evaluate the Better Regulation Executive’s approach to achieving the business impact target
  • highlight any issues and concerns, and
  • illustrate departmental good practice examples with regards to processes to achieve the business impact target.

All written submissions responding to the questions above are to be sent to

The closing date for submissions is close of business on Friday 11 March 2016.

If you have any queries about this consultation, please also email the above address.

Please let us have your view on EU membership

ESCO is currently developing its position on EU membership and, to support that, we are very keen to get the views from as many people in industry as possible.

Please click here to complete our very short survey, which contains only two questions:
1. What is your current view of the UK’s membership of the EU? Pleas choose from the drop down list (remain, leave or undecided)
2. What are the most pressing issues that influence your answer to question 1? (free form comment box)
Thanks in advance for your help!

ESCO to set out priority goals

ESCO is in the process of developing its priority goals for the next twelve months, which will be published in the next few months in its next annual report.

Seeking to address some of the most pressing societal challenges of our time, these priorities will be centred on:

Smart Energy – addressing the need reduce energy demand and the issues of energy security

Smart Health – addressing demographic changes leading to greater demands on healthcare provision

Smart Industry – addressing the need to re-balance the economy by updating and increasing our manufacturing capability

Smart Transport – increasing the efficiency of vehicles and transport systems while contributing to carbon emission reduction

While the UK electrotechnical industry is already at the forefront of technology innovation in many aspects of these key challenges, the ability of our industry to realise the huge business opportunities that these challenges represent, will need to be underpinned by a significant improvement in Skills provision and in investment in coordinated Technology development.

The report will lay out ESCO’s plans in all of these six key areas.

To find out more about ESCO’s plans in these areas and about other aspect of ESCO’s work, see the ‘workstream’ down menu here

Interested in getting involved?

Email us at to find out more.

Apprenticeships inquiry launched by the Sub-Committee on Education, Skills and the Economy

The Sub-Committee is welcoming submissions of evidence addressing some or all of the following points:

  • The target of three million apprentices by 2020, how the Government proposes to achieve this and how this may affect the ‘skills gap’
  • The proposal for an apprenticeships levy and how this may be implemented
  • The institutional architecture of current provision and how this may be affected by the proposed Institute for Apprenticeships
  • Take-up of apprenticeships amongst 16–19 year olds and steps that can be taken to make more young people aware of available opportunities
  • The process of applying for apprenticeships
  • Routes for progression to higher qualifications for current apprentices
  • The quality of, and minimum standards for, apprenticeships, and how standards can be enforced
  • Lessons from other countries’ approaches to apprenticeships.

The deadline for written evidence is midday on Friday 18 March 2016.

For further information, please click here

Consultation on how regulation affects innovation

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Last summer, the Government published its plan to boost UK productivity, which requires all Departments to publish an Innovation Plan for Regulators by spring 2016.

As part of that process, BIS is now inviting feedback and ideas on how regulation affects business’ ability to innovate or enter/create markets or products, and on how these regulators may need to respond and adapt to upcoming developments in your sector.  Specifically, they are seeking feedback on the following areas:

  • How legislation and enforcement frameworks could adapt to new technologies and disruptive models to encourage growth;
  • How regulators could respond to technological change in their sectors;
  • How regulators could make better use of new technologies to generate efficiency savings and reduce burdens on business.

The deadline for responses to the survey is Thursday 25th February 2016. 

To read more about this consultation and to access the online survey, click here

ESCO welcomes news of the new Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult

ESCO welcomes the announcement by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne that £50m of government support is to be provided to support the new Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, which will be based in Wales. Government funding  is expected to be provided at the rate of £10m per annum up to 2020-21.


Compound semiconductors are at the heart of many devices we use today, from smart phones to tablets and satellite communication systems and are central to development of the 5G network, new high-efficiency lighting, power electronics for the next generation of electric vehicles and new imaging techniques for a variety of uses from security to health diagnostics.

The opportunity for the UK is huge as the global market for compound semiconductors is expected to be £125bn by 2020.

You can read more from InnovateUK here

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