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Apprenticeship Advocate Salop Design & Engineering Ltd

Christopher Greenough.
Commercial Director.
Salop Design & Engineering Ltd.

" While Interviewing Rocket Scientist Brett Hoffstadt, and Engineers  Dr Sam Rigby , Dr.Will Whittow to help students choose a Career, I met the Corporate Passion of Salop Design & Engineeering to be Leading Advocates for Apprenticeships. I asked them if they would do an Interview about this. Christopher Greenough their Commercial Director said YES!" Paul Cody

Salop Design & Engineering Ltd is a tier two metal pressings and assemblies’ manufacturer based in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. We are a family run, privately owned business, that has been in the sector and region for fifty years. We have seen the highs and lows of the UK economy, manufacturing and the skills gap.

In 2015 we were struggling to find a competent, local training provider to give our staff, apprentice’s the real life training they need to become our engineers of the future. We were in fact sending our apprentices to Walsall to a training provider we had used for many years. This training provider, In-Comm Training & Business Services, is well respected in the manufacturing and engineering sector, and so we took the bold step of teaming up with them, renovating part of our site and setting up a training centre to help close the skills gap in Shropshire.

We invested £300,000  $388,000 US of our own money to renovate the building, install equipment and kit, including millers, drills, lathes and a full CAD suite. We need to be able to train the engineers of the future on all relevant machines and processes to make sure they enter the workplace with all the skills they need to succeed and maximise their potential.

We opened the centre with the first apprentice cohort in September 2015, just ten weeks after the renovation work started. Currently we have thirty-six apprentices in two separate cohorts, five of which are our company apprentices, with the balance being employed and trained for other businesses in the region. These jobs have been created as a result of the skills gap, but with the input and commitment from all Shropshire business, we are helping to close this gap.

P.S. To every Apprentice and Reader from Salop Design and Mark Jaffe, Former Senior Executive, Walt Disney Company,  " Your Suitcase of Happiness

INTERVIEW with Christopher Greenough by Paul Cody with Retired Naval-Submarine Commander The Captain ,  Engineering Community

REMEMBER to Watch  the         Video

and Marches LEP Apprenticeship Video

The Captain;  Skilled labor is becoming a rarity in the United States. I just want to thank you for your leadership in the U.K. to make a difference. College or university isn't for everyone and learning a skill that couples one's passion with work makes for a happy successful career. No questions, just applause!

Paul;  Chris, what do you see as the reasons apprenticeships are becoming more popular?

Chris;  Apprenticeships and the vocational learning route, are the best way for some people to learn. For far too long, all youngsters have been pushed through education, and given no alternative than exams and achieving the required results. But for many, this does nothing to engage, encourage and enthuse them.

Let’s look to a balanced view where both routes are given equal billing, and to choose the vocational learning route is not seen as failing or as a second-best choice.

Engineering Community;   Chris, what impact - if any - do you think Brexit will have on apprenticeships?   What more can - and should - the powers that be do to promote apprenticeships?

Chris;   If anything, it will further the need for us to invest in training and skills. We need to look to invest in the future of the UK, and even though we will still need access to skills from outside the UK, we need to look to why we have this skills gap in the first place. We have had many years of not investing in education and training in this country.

We need to engage with schools, teachers and indeed parents to show that the vocational learning route is one that will lead to a long term career. Apprenticeships have had a poor name over many years, where most have favored the A-level and degree route. But now, with degree apprenticeships available, and the backing of the employer through the apprenticeship levy, the vocational route is looking much more appealing.

Paul;  How important are apprentices to your business?

Chris;  Apprentices are key to our business structure and growth. We, as many manufacturers have a skills gap in key areas, quality, toolroom and maintenance. We need to invest in skills and training to make sure that this skills gap is reduced. Only with strength in all areas can a business thrive, and we are making sure that through the apprentices and through upskilling existing staff, we are prepared for the future.

Paul;  How important is the apprentice levy as a strategy?

Chris; The apprenticeship levy is a key policy focus from the government to push business to look at training, but we need to make sure that all the training provision is of a standard that gives the business, but more importantly the learners the very best chances for their career.

Quality, not quantity. Apprentice training provision needs to be very carefully monitored, by both government and business, to make sure we maintain standards and quality of provision.

The levy is simply the starting point, it is now up to all to make sure the levy leads to more vocational learning, that can have a real impact on closing the skills gap.

Paul; What work do you think needs to be done to change the current views of apprenticeships?

Chris: The apprenticeship levy is pushing business to focus on training. But, what needs to happen now is the link between business and education, we need to make sure that youngsters know what business is, how manufacturing is changing, and the opportunities that exist.

I secured a small amount of funding from the local Marches LEP, to create a video showing manufacturing, employers and apprentices, talking about opportunities within the industry. This can be shown in schools to help educate. I have lots of ideas on how I, and all other business can and needs to connect with the young people in schools and colleges;

·        Get more business leaders, MDs, CEOs and Directors into schools and colleges to talk about their sector, how they progressed through their training and got to the top of their company.

·        Release funding to pay to take school teachers into business, during the Summer holidays, to teach them about business, manufacturing and the opportunities that sectors have for careers.

·        For this to happen. The best way to engage and enthuse a young person is to show them manufacturing, business and what the real world holds for them. This will lead to youngsters actively looking to STEM subjects to push their career choice.

·        Show schools, youngsters and teachers that a vocational route is as important as a university route. An apprenticeship route, can be the start of a path to a degree. This same work, needs to be done to engage and work with parents, who still look to STEM subjects, vocational learning and apprenticeships as the go to route when things have not gone well at school.

·        Encourage training providers to work with business, to engage with learning institutions and make a rounded, complete cycle of learning. We also need to link job roles, titles to subjects taught at school, and link this to STEM subjects. We need to promote more STEM interaction from schools, teachers, parents and business. STEM needs to become ingrained, as a way of thinking, an become part of education in all forms.

·        Encourage and allow more schools to visit business, allow time in the curriculum

P.S.  You are Invited to be part of this Interview!  Please DM your Question to Paul Cody @careerskunks

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