A leading engineering firm’s commitment to addressing the UK skills gap has been celebrated with the graduation of 11 students from its pioneering pre-apprenticeship scheme.
In front of a packed audience of influential business leaders, mentors and proud parents, the youngsters, donning university-style graduate gowns, collected their course certificates at adi Group’s headquarters in Kings Norton, Birmingham.
And, underlining the scheme’s achievements, it was announced on the night that two lucky students would move on to a full-time apprenticeship at the multi-disciplined engineering firm.
Discussing his achievements, Bromsgrove student Lewis Smith, 16, said: “It’s really been a unique experience. I know now that when it comes to applying for full-time work in the future, I’ll have something over the competition.
“Mechanical and electrical engineering are two sectors to get great experience in, so I’m really looking forward to what the future might hold.”
“Everyone was really welcoming and friendly,” said 16-year-old Travis Cashmore about the experience. “The mentors made it really easy to get used to the work, so I do feel like I have some great skills to take into full-time work.”
The firm’s pre-apprentice scheme, which was the first to launch in the UK, offers local students aged 14 to 16 the chance to learn hands-on engineering skills in a real working environment.
For one afternoon a week for two years, talented youngsters get the chance to earn an EAL accredited qualification.
Past students on the successful programme have included 17-year-old Abbie Beaver, now a fabrication and welding apprentice at the firm, and one of the top female engineers in the UK, as named by the Women’s Engineering Society.
Commenting on the night and the students’ achievements, adi Group strategic account director James Sopwith said: “At adi we firmly believe in the need to expose youngsters to potential new career pathways at a much earlier age.
“Last night was not only evidence of the success of our approach, but also a demonstration of how committed we are to making our communities much more sustainable.
“Our investment in these students extends far beyond just delivering quality local jobs, it’s also part of an ethos here at adi to engineer a better future, where businesses and schools of all sectors work together to improve prospects across the region.
“As a company that works with some of the biggest brands in the world, we’re looking forward to showing these students even further the exciting work available on UK soil.”
Far from just being just an adi initiative, the company has drawn up a guide for other UK businesses to copy their model and create similar partnership with local schools.
The scheme is especially relevant after Government figures recently revealed that over 20,000 engineering candidates would be needed annually to fill roles at companies in the West Midlands alone.
As one of the companies that has already exceeded its commitment to having five per cent of its full-time workforce made up of apprentices by 2020, James is confident adi is delivering on the youth skills front.
“We’ve really been ahead of the curve when it comes to apprenticeships,” he said. “What we’re hoping to do is equip thousands of young people with the practical skills that businesses need, but we can’t do it alone.
“Right now, we’re calling on companies across the region to follow the path we have set up with pre-apprenticeships and address the UK skills gap before it is too late.”
The adi Group is a major Birmingham engineering firm with over 30 specialist divisions serving household names across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.