The head of north-east engineering firm Ace Winches has called on fellow business leaders to invest in youth to help to address the region’s skill shortages.
Alfie Cheyne, founder and chief executive of the Turriff-based deck-machinery specialist, said yesterday companies had to “grow their own” to be successful.
Speaking to more than 100 people at a business breakfast in Aberdeen, Mr Cheyne said: “There is a lot of competition in the Aberdeen area for good-quality workers. Everyone says finding people is their biggest problem, but thousands are born every day.
“Grow your own and invest in them.”
Mr Cheyne said Ace had 44 young apprentices working at its Towie Barclay Works headquarters, forming part of a 300-strong workforce.
“They are the future of our manufacturing industry; without them and others like them there cannot be a manufacturing industry in this country,” he said. “We have got to fight to keep our manufacturing jobs and train our people to be the best at what they do. Give youth a chance.”
The breakfast in the Thistle Airport Hotel was held as part of North East Business Week, organised by the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise North-East Trust, Federation of Small Businesses and Scottish Council for Development and Industry.
The four organisations also published a survey of north-east businesses yesterday, which found that while more than 70% of companies in the region planned to grow in the next three years, nearly the same proportion feared a lack of people and skills would hold back their ambitions.
Meanwhile, Robert Gordon University (RGU) was also involved in business week, showcasing projects from Aberdeen Business School’s centre for entre-preneurship.
One of the centrepieces of the Developing Talent event was a mannequin wearing a dress made of copies of the Press and Journal, designed by RGU fashion management students to highlight the links between the university and the north-east community.