Apprenticeships: an employer’s perspective

Whenever I mention apprenticeships, people react positively. Some individuals I speak with instantly start telling stories of people they have known who have succeeded through apprenticeship training programmes and they talk about what an excellent start to a career it can be. However, all of these career starts and stories of success would not be possible without the initiative of the employer.

There are many reasons why an employer may choose to adopt the NDT apprenticeship scheme, from the utilisation of funding or succession planning to the development of existing staff with the use of structured work-based training programmes. Some employers have even decided to use the apprenticeship scheme as their preferred method of recruitment, so that they can instil core company values and working practices right from the start.

Rather than me rant on about the reasons why an employer could use the apprenticeship scheme, I thought it would be much more beneficial for the readers to hear it directly from an employer’s mouth, so to speak! Here is a short extract from Tony Hare, Director at Structural & Weld Testing Services Ltd, on why he utilises the apprenticeship scheme to aid in the company’s progression:
“At Structural & Weld Testing Services Ltd, we have a long history of training apprentices. This is our preferred choice of recruitment for two reasons. Firstly, it gives us the opportunity to provide a tailored pathway for training, experience, qualifications and competency to meet the specific needs of the company. This, in part, is achieved by working alongside our existing personnel. Secondly, but just as important, it allows the management to instil in our apprentices the company’s policy on punctuality, presentation, impartiality, clear communications and procedural adherence.

“The new BINDT apprenticeship has definitely been an improvement on previous methods of apprenticeships and to date we have taken on three apprentices. In conjunction with the BINDT apprenticeship, we also allow our apprentices to continue their education at a formal college where they complete an NVQ in welding and fabrication, to give them a greater understanding of the industry we operate in, as well as a more rounded education. “The end goal of every single apprenticeship we offer is to establish a well-trained, qualified and competent individual within our existing team, for the benefit of their own and the company’s progression.”

The structure of the NDT apprenticeships has been written in a way to work for as many industry sectors and employers as possible, ensuring that either qualifications from general engineering under ISO 9712 or aerospace under EN 4179 can be incorporated into a single apprenticeship scheme. Furthermore, the apprenticeships can be tailored to the exact requirements of the employer, ensuring that the individuals are trained with a company-specific focus.

The NDT apprenticeships have had a massive impact, but the mission is not over just yet. Employers up and down the country all have a responsibility to ensure the success and sustainability of the industry – keep it going!

Please note that the views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent the views of JetSoft.

Sam Cunningham is with JetSoft and is a member of BINDT’s Education & Professional Development Committee, which oversees the development of the NDT apprenticeships. He is also an Associate Lecturer for the NDT apprenticeship programme with the University of Northampton.

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