A North East engineering company, which has trained hundreds of young people, has revealed exciting plans to boost its 50-year-old apprenticeship scheme.
Tyneside-based British Engines is to launch its own training academy – Apprenticeship+.
This will involve doubling the number of its apprentices – 25 will start in September - and offering them the chance of both practical and academic training through three levels: Foundation, Intermediate and the four-year Advanced.
The British Engines group of companies employs 1100 people – mainly in the North East but also all over the world - and operates in a number of engineering sectors, primarily oil and gas. The company says the launch of Apprenticeship+ is both a solution to a shortage of skilled engineers and reflects a continuing ambition to expand.
The launch comes as British Engines has announced that its turnover in the last financial year was £109.5m, with pre-tax profits of £9m compared to pre-tax profits of £7.5m for the previous year.
One of the people behind Apprenticeship+ is production engineer Harry Clark who has worked for British Engines for 35 years. He said: “Over the next years we intend to grow the company. To grow the company we need extra people. Apprenticeship+ is very exciting. I’m not sure whether it’s unique or one of the first schemes of its kind in the area.”
The Apprenticeship+ trainees will learn on the shop floor, in the classroom and during visits to other companies where they will bring examples of best practice back to British Engines.
British Engines engineering director Richard Dodd said Apprenticeship+ offers young people a very attractive and practical alternative to the expense of university education: “The programme we’ve put together recognises that not everyone is suited to going to university from day one. Many people need that hands-on experience first so in the future they can go there at the right stage of their career.”
He added: “British Engines will only be successful if our employees are successful. That means giving them the right facilities and infrastructure and the right training and tools to do the job correctly. This will help them progress and the business progress as well.”
The Apprenticeship+ programme has been developed with British Engines long-term training partner TDR. Its systems manager Steve Lambert said: “This is very different to what other major engineering companies do. The standard method there is to give apprentices a round robin experience of the different departments of the company. At British Engines their learning will take place in just one area so they become more productive more quickly.”
Eighteen-year-old Matthew Smith from Consett is a current British Engines apprentice, working at one of its companies – CMP – in Cramlington. He plans to build on his training through Apprenticeship+: “It will give me a big step up. I’ve got friends who went to sixth form and college and found it really difficult. A couple of them have got jobs, like me, and it’s definitely the way to go.”
Alex Forshaw, 18, from Hebburn, is an apprentice at Rotary Power, a division of British Engines. He said: “My dad was an engineer and my brother was an apprentice. I was never interested in sixth form or college. I wanted to learn a trade. I’ve got friends who went on to sixth form and they’ve got nowhere to go.”
Ben Chirnside, 19, from Shiremoor, is training at BEL Valves and believes Apprenticeship+ has a number of attractions for young people. “You get paid for learning. I learn something every day – both here and in college.”
A 2min 56sec video is also available:
For more information about British Engines and Apprenticeship+ visit www.bel.co.uk
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