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NEWS IN BRIEF

EUROPE

17 Jul 06. Britain’s long-term defense equipment program faces a multibillion-dollar shortfall, with combat aircraft acquisition and upgrade funding needs projected to double in the middle of the critical period. Projections for the Defense Ministry’s next 10-year plan, from 2011-21, reveal a serious gap between available funding and anticipated program costs. Defense Ministry figures seen by Aviation Week & Space Technology indicate the “program excess” is estimated to be £11.6bn ($21.4bn) over the period in question. The Defense Procurement Agency’s present budget is about £6bn a year. The so-called Equipment Program 07 (EP07) period also includes a hike in fixed-wing aircraft expenditure. According to the ministry’s own figures, beginning in 2014-15, there’s a sharp increase in funding, including for the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA), as the U.K. refers to the Lockheed Martin F-35. This is estimated to cost £10bn. The purchase of a third tranche of the Eurofighter Typhoon would also fall mainly in this period. Tranches 1 and 2 of the four-nation program are already under contract. The British Tranche 2 for 89 aircraft cost £4.3bn; Tranche 3 for an additional 88 aircraft will also be in this order. BAE Systems is the U.K. industrial lead on the program. (Source: Aviation Week)

20 Jul 06. Manufacturing industry HR bosses have rounded on the Government agencies set up to solve the sector’s skills problems, condemning them as “a waste of time” and “of no use”. At a manufacturing skills summit in Oxford yesterday (Wednesday 19 July), 100 manufacturing executives, with responsibilities for hiring, training and hanging on to their staff, heard a panel of senior HR directors from industry giants Unipart, JCB, Nestle and St Gobain turn on quangos like the Learning and Skills Council and the various industry-specific sector skills councils. In response to an innocuous enquiry from People Management magazine editor and summit facilitator Steve Crabb about the effectiveness of the agencies, the HR bosses variously described them as bureaucratic, over complicated, a waste of time and “having nothing to offer me”. “We’ve tried grant-funded skills and found them singularly unsuccessful; a waste of time,” said JCB’s group HR director. It was a sentiment echoed by Alan McLenaghan, site director at St Gobain Glass who said he had told the quangos, “You have nothing to offer me.” “By the time you’ve got to know about them it’s a year, then you start to engage with them, then everything changes; they are over complicated and not well publicised,” said another delegate. Matt Stripe, senior HR Business partner at Nestle in York and John Greatrex, group HR director were no more complimentary, both preferring to tackle their own recruitment, training and retention issues. Asked to indicate whether or not they had engaged with any of the agencies, fewer than a dozen of the 100 delegates answered ‘yes’ and each of them said the liaison had not been successful. Among other issues, the role staff from Eastern Europe were playing in sustaining British manufacturing was much praised, while age discrimination laws due to come into effect in October would “hit hard” and were viewed as “quite frightening” because their full ramifications had not been thought through.

16 Jul 06. EADS, the Franco-German parent company of Airbus, is calling on the British government to allow it to compete for a greater share of defence and aerospace contracts in exchange for its continued investment in the UK. Ahead of this week’s Farnborough Air Show, Robin Southwell, UK chief executive for EADS, also raised doubts about the suitability of BAE Systems, Britain’s biggest arms manufacturer, for the role of national defence champion. He questioned whether the UK wanted to “continue down the line to have a national champion that has such a clear focus on the US”. The approach risked creating a “level of dependency on the US that is unhealthy”. Tom Enders, the Ger

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