To mark National Apprenticeship Week 2014, the AMRC Training Centre invited senior managers from local manufacturing employers – all of whom currently have apprentices at the Training Centre – to go back to the floor and spend a day as an apprentice.
The bosses were given an apprentice to look after them, and a simple machining or welding task to complete under close supervision. For many, it was a return to the earliest days of their own careers – and a chance to see how apprentice training has changed over the past decades.
Participants included Mick Hood, HR director, Tata Steel; Clive Porter, managing director, Darron SBO; Mark Webber, managing director, Tinsley Bridge; David O’Hara, finance director, MTL Group; Vince Middleton, chair, Newburgh Engineering; James Selka, production and HR director, AES Seal; Craig McKay, general manager and joint MD, Evenort; Charles Robinson, managing director, Helix Tools; and Alison Bettac, director of training, AMRC Training Centre.
“It’s a walk down memory lane for me – it takes me back 34 years to when I started my apprenticeship,” said Mick Hood of Tata Steel. “It gives me a real insight into modern training, which is important because we have our own people here. It’s good for someone who’s been away from this environment, but is responsible for putting people through it, to understand what they’re going through.”
James Selka of AES Seal, who also started his own career as an apprentice, was also impressed with the AMRC Training Centre Facilities. “This is streets ahead of what we had,” he said. “Everyone’s engaged, and they seem much more mature than we were. It’s really well run and the people here want to learn, and they are being stretched.”
Vince Middleton of Newburgh Engineering found himself being supervised by a younger relative, Torston Middleton, who is serving his apprenticeship with the family firm.
“I didn’t do an apprenticeship, but I’ve been around engineering long enough to know what it’s about,” Vince said. “I’m quite impressed that I’ve made something relatively quickly. The quality of the kit and everything in here is brilliant. It beats anything that anyone else has as a facility. I’ve not seen anywhere in 30 years that’s as well run and which suits our needs so well.”
Torston Middleton also found the experience valuable. “It gives Vince an opportunity to know what goes on here and understand what skills I’ve learned,” he said. “And his standard of work is very impressive.”
For some of the bosses who didn’t have a practical engineering background, the day proved an eye-opener.
“I’m a chartered accountant, but I’ve found that I am a born welder. It’s taken me 53 years to find my true vocation,” said David O’Hara of MTL Group. “It’s a privilege for MTL to have our apprentices here at the AMRC. They will start their working life with a first-class education which will carry them through to great things at MTL.”
The temporary apprentices also took the online competence test that all would-be AMRC apprentices have to pass before they are offered a place – most were pleased to find that they did make the grade.
Alison Bettac said that the day showed everyone the value of the new Training Centre. “I’ve learned what high standards our apprentices have within the centre – we weren’t here to do a slapdash job, and if we did we were picked up on it,” she said. “We all found that our apprentices are far in advance of what we thought they were going to be. The support we’ve had from them was of a very high standard. They’ve given everyone a real feel for the ethos and philosophy of the centre.”