North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen was able to see for himself the value of apprenticeships during an open day at Stephenson College in Coalville.
At the event to mark National Apprenticeship Week, he met employers and talked with engineering, construction and motor vehicle apprentices who were taking part in practical team-building events.
During a tour of the campus, Andrew spoke with representatives from several major national companies including Volvo Trucks, BAM Nuttall and Aggregate Industries – all employers who have chosen Stephenson College to deliver their tailored training programmes to their apprentices nationally.
Andrew added: “We need employers like these to provide apprenticeship training if we are to avoid skills gaps in the future.”
“Research indicates that it has been easier to promote apprenticeships in business administration, retail and care than it has in engineering, construction and IT, yet it is these areas which deliver the best returns on investment.”
“Colleges like Stephenson College are doing a great job in publicising apprentice vacancies to young people and employers but schools too must do more to promote apprenticeships as a viable alternative to A levels and university.”
Among the employers taking part in the college’s apprenticeship event for the first time this year was multinational construction group Laing O’Rourke.
The company is looking for water distribution apprentices for its Midlands’ utilities business and plans to start its recruitment drive by taking on an initial 18 trainees over the coming months.
Craig Moorhouse, construction manager with Laing O’Rourke, said: “We have a lot of older heads in our industry but the sector is becoming more and more technical and we need to train young, technically minded people.”
“We chose to come to Stephenson College as it’s in the Midlands where much of our utilities work is based and it has a good reputation for national apprenticeship training.”
One company which already has a well-established relationship with Stephenson College is M-EC Consulting Development Engineers in Ibstock.
Currently employing four apprentices in the area of civil engineering and geomatics, the firm is now looking to take on six more during 2015.
And, taking up an apprenticeship offers great potential for a rewarding career, explained civil engineering apprentices Taylor Worringham and Cameron Green, who were looking after the M-EC stand.
Taylor, who is 18 and from Hinckley, joined M-EC over a year ago, while Cameron, who is 17 and from Moira, started with the business last September.
Taylor said: “We’d definitely encourage people to think about apprenticeships. We are really enjoying ours. It’s great training and I’ve started to go out on site now. I particularly like working on the road design and highways aspects of the job.”
And Taylor’s sentiments were echoed by Aggregate Industries which is looking to fill 28 engineering vacancies – 10 at BTEC apprenticeship level and a further 18 at higher apprenticeship foundation degree level.
Hefin Jones, learning and development manager at Aggregate Industries said: “We’ve worked with Stephenson College for about five years a now and there is a lot to be said for having bespoke training delivered by one college. Our apprentices are scattered across the country but they all receive a consistent standard of training which is delivered by a college with a clear understanding of our training needs.”