National Apprenticeship Week: The huge North West firms leading the way

National Apprenticeship Week: The huge North West firms leading the way

Firms from across the North West have this week revealed details of new apprenticeship schemes as part of National Apprenticeship Week. Taking place all week, the annual celebration is aimed at shining a light on the work being done by employers and apprentices across the UK. This year, it’s also recognising how firms of all […]

Firms from across the North West have this week revealed details of new apprenticeship schemes as part of National Apprenticeship Week.

Taking place all week, the annual celebration is aimed at shining a light on the work being done by employers and apprentices across the UK.

This year, it’s also recognising how firms of all sizes have stepped up to the challenge during this unprecedented time.

Below, we wrap up some of the North West firms to have announced apprenticeship projects as part of the national event, as well as those who have been shouting about their own schemes in recent days.

Is your North West firm running an apprenticeship scheme? Email [email protected] with the details.

United Utilities

Abdul Ghafaar, 28, from Burnley, an apprentice at United Utilities

United Utilities has begun the search for around 40 new apprentices.

Applications opened this week for apprenticeship roles in science, engineering, data analysis and property buying, as well as, for the first time, data modelling, construction supervision, project control and payroll.

The water and wastewater firm has taken on hundreds of apprentices since 2015, including a record number during the coronavirus pandemic last year.

Julie McGovern, head of people, said: “Our apprenticeships are open to all, whether you’re fresh out of school or college, starting your work journey later in life or wanting to switch jobs paths.

“We’re also recognised for our approach to gender equality and diversity in the workplace. There really are no limits.”

Vital Energi

The Vital Energi training centre in Blackburn

Vital Energi has announced 20 new ‘green’ apprenticeship positions at its training centre in Blackburn.

The firm said the move will boost key industry skills in the region and support UK-wide steps towards net-zero, as well as creating a sustainable workforce and tackling the post-Covid economic recovery.

It is looking to recruit apprentices to all areas of the business, site and office based, from design engineers through to project delivery engineers and operational engineers as well as support service opportunities.

Alex Spencer, Vital Energi’s first apprentice employed under the new initiative, said: “I wanted to be a part of a community that makes the planet a greener place.

“I am excited to be joining the company at such a pivotal time for the whole world as we look for new solutions to tackle climate change. Its amazing reputation, makes Vital Energi a great place to learn the skills I need for a successful career in clean energy.”

BAE Systems

Manufacturing in Yorkshire.
BAE Systems

In December, BAE Systems announced it is to hire 1,250 new apprentices and graduates in 2021 – the highest number it has ever recruited in a single year.

The group has sites across the UK including in the North West, West Midlands, South West, Yorkshire and the Humber, and made the major jobs announcement on Thursday morning – despite the global pandemic.

The new roles will consist of 850 apprenticeships and 400 graduate roles available across the UK, with a total of 763 of the roles to be based in the North West.

Charles Woodburn, chief executive of BAE Systems, said: “Getting people back to work and creating high-quality jobs is a national priority. So, it’s more important than ever that those of us who are in a position to do so continue our investment in the UK workforce.

“We’re fortunate that our business is based on long-term critical defence programmes, giving us the confidence to increase our apprentice and graduate recruitment to create a strong talent pipeline, which enables us to continue delivering cutting-edge technologies, whilst playing a role in supporting the UK’s economic recovery.”

Leyland Trucks

Apprentices at Leyland Trucks

Manufacturer Leyland Trucks has opened recruitment for its scheme, planning to take on a minimum of 17 apprentices to strengthen its team.

Leyland Trucks, based at Croston Road in Leyland, is recruiting 10 assembly operatives, four automotive engineers, two design engineers and one fabrication and welding engineer, having recently offered permanent positions to the 29 apprentices that completed their courses in 2020.

Leyland Trucks HR director, Ivan Shearer, said: “Every year we bring on a new stream of local, young talent who fully embrace our apprenticeship programme, throwing themselves into the world of engineering, and every year we get excited afresh about how much value they might each bring to the industry.

“Our current apprentices – like us – weren’t prepared for the turbulence the pandemic would inflict on the earliest days of their careers, but they each showed commitment to the programme and we were able to reward those graduating with the offer of permanent positions with the company.

“t’s essential that we retain such dedicated individuals and provide them with the opportunity to work with us for the long term.”

Siemens

Kirsty Milne, Siemens engineering apprentice

Siemens has said its degree apprenticeship programme is on target to deliver its 25th Industry 4.0-trained engineer.

The innovative skills solution added a ‘top up’ year to the four-year Higher Apprenticeship programme, giving participants a Bachelor of Engineering in Control and Automation.

Co-designed and co-delivered by Siemens and the University of Salford it uses a block delivery model combining academic modules including automation, robotics, and embedded systems.

Since its launch in 2017, 17 apprentices from across Siemens’ businesses have gained their degrees, with eight on target to graduate this year.

Kirsty Milne, 22, is part of the first cohort on the cusp of completing the four-year programme.

She said: ““A lot of my friends graduated from university last year, which I was a bit jealous of, but come the autumn I will have my degree, four years work experience under my belt, and no debt.

“Taking this leap of faith has really paid off. This apprenticeship pathway has really accelerated my career.”

HMG Paints

HMG apprentices Josh Taylor and Nathan Eckersley

Two apprentices from Manchester-based HMG Paints are among the first in the country to complete the new Industrial Coating Applicator Apprenticeship.

Josh Taylor and Nathan Eckersley took part in the apprenticeship which was managed by DN Colleges Group and operated by Jack Tighe and sees the pair complete the apprenticeship as ICATS Time Served Apprentices with an extremely high level of technical and application competence.

HMG said apprenticeships and investment in staff is a “key development” as it builds the future for itself whilst playing a key role in Greater Manchester’s Local Industrial Strategy.

Mr Taylor said: “The course has been extremely useful, and I feel it has set me on a career path I never thought I could achieve.”

“It has given me an opportunity to build the future for myself whilst also adding value to HMG and its customers who we will go on to engage with and work alongside.”

Sutcliffe

Sean Keyes of Sutcliffe

Sean Keyes, MD of civil engineering firm Sutcliffe, said his company has a “proud history” of progressing apprentices and ensuring they can learn and grow in a “safe and accepting environment”.

He said: “With four apprentices currently on our books, we have high hopes that they will be able to follow in the footsteps of some of our previous apprentices who have climbed the ladder and progressed from young, inexperienced 16-years old to established and competent company directors.

“Taking on apprentices fresh from school at the ages of 16 to 19, every apprentice’s experience is tailored towards their growth and whether it is engineering or admin that they are passionate about, we do all we can to integrate them into our team and give them the tools they need to flourish both in an office and on-site environment.

“There is a clear ladder of succession at Sutcliffe and our apprentices are regularly reminded of their aims and goals, to ensure that they stay focused and are always working towards their next achievement, which I feel is incredibly important for their future aspirations and development.

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