16 February 2023
The Toshiba Carrier UK (TCUK) apprenticeship programme is celebrating 10 years of training success, helping the business develop its own talent to offset the impact of a growing skills shortage affecting the UK building services industry.
The sector continues to experience significant skills issues, highlighted recently by industry bodies including the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) and Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA). These organisations say the shortage of skilled people represents a significant challenge for the industry.
TCUK apprentices and former apprentices employed as full team members make up 55% of the company’s technical team, and 70% of the pre-sales and design team. Several former apprentices have been promoted to senior management positions and key technical sales roles.
The initiative is part of a TCUK-wide apprenticeship programme covering a range of disciplines, including equipment servicing and logistics.
“Before we launched the programme 10 years ago, there were signs of a serious skills shortage developing and we decided to do something about it,” said Neil Wooldridge, technical director, TCUK. “It has been hugely successful because many of the young people who have come through the programme have gone on to become managers and key members of the team. It is often difficult to recruit the right people, and this approach allows us to develop and train people the right way from the start.’’
Former apprentice Cameron Beech
The programme benefits were highlighted at a TCUK customer event to launch the company’s new SHRM Advance VRF system. Adam Jennings, a former apprentice and now a pre-sales design engineer, updated customers on enhancements to Toshiba Air Conditioning's selection tool and introduction of the R32 VRF system, while Cameron Beech, another ‘graduate’ of the scheme and now DX and VRF product manager, explained the advantages of the company’s new Digital Inverter range, and its online commissioning, warranty and training platforms.
Cameron Beech said: “From the moment I joined the programme, I never really felt like an apprentice. I was made to feel part of the team and given responsibility. Development and education are very important to Toshiba Air Conditioning, and I have had the opportunity to gain additional qualifications. I would never have believed at 18 I could get to where I am now. It shows how TCUK invests in its young people and how effective the company’s Apprenticeship Programme is.’’
Adam Jennings added: “TCUK gave me the opportunity to retrain as an apprentice design engineer at the age of 21. I had just finished a Media Studies degree, but it didn’t quite feel right for me as a future career. The Toshiba Air Conditioning apprentice scheme gave me a fresh chance to find my chosen path. TCUK supported me through national qualifications, enabling me to gain the skills I needed to become a full-time design engineer. For anyone looking for a career in engineering, I would 100% recommend the TCUK apprenticeship scheme.”
Adam Jennings at work
Trainee HVAC technical support engineers spend four days a week working on site or in a Toshiba Air Conditioning office, alongside college day-release to study air conditioning and refrigeration. It is a similar arrangement for apprentice controls engineers, who work toward electrical qualification.
Neil Wooldridge believes the programme offers young people an important alternative route into the workplace: “Our apprentices are paid while they learn a trade, and I would say to anyone looking to continue their education – you couldn’t join a better business. In addition to apprenticeships, there is a worldwide study fund available. Some have achieved degrees and others more job-related qualifications. It’s good for the individual and increases the level of knowledge within the business.’’
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