One way to grow your ACR company and compete

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Published: 08 September 2015


Young ACR Engineers - acr journal
Steve Dixey from engineering training company, HETA, explains how hiring well trained young engineers can help your business grow and compete.

On 21st August 2015, The Prime Minister announced plans to increase the number of apprentice places offered by big business and especially SME’s and also look at funding these places.

From our perspective as a work-based engineering training provider, SME’s have been the toughest place to recruit apprentices for even with funding available with every young person. A larger number of apprentices for smaller companies are coming on-board, compared to the numbers that have traditionally come from our “Blue Chip” clients. These SME’s recognise that if they are to grow or even just compete, they must recruit and retain young people with the ideas to carry the company through into the future markets.

A Double Whammy on Costs

The cost of apprenticeships suffers a “double whammy” from the fact that engineering training is expensive to deliver (consumables such as metal, tools), and the wages a training provider pays to recruit and retain engineering specialists has to reflect market conditions. This is compounded by there being skill shortages so we compete against industry for a shrinking pool of suitable candidates. Engineering trainees don’t get extra funding to reflect this. If the government wants engineers to be trained, there needs to be measures in place to reflect that.

This cost may be a disincentive to training providers and employers and this is why a specialist engineering training provider may be the best place to look. Specialist engineering training providers should have an insight into the engineering sector and be able to suggest cost-effective methods that may not always look cheap on paper, but, in the long run, provide a well-trained and motivated individual that will be an asset to your company.

Skilled engineers, properly trained

The cost of training can be eye-watering at times but consider this. Cutting corners leads to training on the cheap, done by Powerpoint, by de-skilling the training sector and the casualization of training appointments. None of these conditions will help to motivate an experienced engineer to go that extra mile for a learner. You end up ticking boxes and looking at what can be crammed into the available time-frame, something that reduces training to just another commodity.

A good engineering training provider cannot have 30 young people in a “proper” engineering workshop with potentially hazardous activities going on looked after by one tutor. The health and safety aspects alone renders this a no-go. This type of environment reduces tutors to getting the kids out the other end of the training process without injuring themselves rather than producing well-rounded tradespeople.

Ready for work

In addition to engineering skills, specialist engineering training providers are well-placed to turn out “work-ready” young people. At HETA we train for the workplace as much as for the skills they will need to deploy in their trades. Apprentices clock in and out, they put in a full 40 hour week, 8am until 4 pm, with two 15 minute breaks plus 30 minutes for lunch.

As their tutors and lecturers worked in industry, they know what industry wants and ensure that the learners get the skills that contribute to employability such as time-keeping, good attendance records and a good appreciation of health and safety in the workplace. We will also look to turn out apprentices that have successfully made the transition from “school kid” to a responsible young adult that is an asset to a company.

As a potential employer, it is important you get involved and ask questions about the training available, challenge what you feel is not right or suggest improvements that will help get a better worker out the door at the end of the apprenticeship. That will make each training pound go further. A good engineering training provider will be happy to take your feedback on-board. HETA goes even further by having industry stakeholders on the board of directors. Their input not only steers the company but feeds through into meeting HETA have with engineering training standards bodies.