• Guest Blog, Paul Sweeting: Why your engineering firm should invest in apprentices…

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    Paul Sweeting

    If you’re involved in the UK’s engineering and manufacturing sector, then you’ll be well aware that it is an industry in the midst of a serious skills shortage. Without a pool of top-quality talent to choose from, many businesses are struggling to expand after being unable to find the right calibre of employee to suit their requirements.

    Is there any way your business can find the talent you need move on to the next level in the current skills shortage? Here’s how we solved this problem at the Bradbury Group after grappling with it for years.

    Bradbury’s expansion has been partially driven by our dedication to investing in third party accreditations (most notably LPS1175 physical security certification), which means we are reliant upon technical competency within our Research and Development department. While our turnover more than doubled from 2011 to 2014, one of the largest threats to our continued growth continues to be a difficulty in recruiting quality engineers.

    To solve this problem and attempt to secure our long-term success, we decided to invest in nurturing our own talent. We established the Bradbury Engineering Academy in partnership with the local North Lindsay College in 2014, and six apprentices joined our R&D department in the programme’s first year. Each has gone on to secure a permanent role with us, and they are all pivotal members of our workforce that we simply wouldn’t have access to if we’d have gone down the traditional recruitment route.

    Since the Bradbury Academy was founded, we’ve had access to a sustainable supply of engineers, with two more apprentices enrolling in the programme this April. If your business is currently suffering due to the skills shortage in the engineering and manufacturing industry, we would highly recommend that you take the development of employees into your own hands by recruiting apprentices. While they won’t have the knowledge and skills of someone with decades of experience in the industry, they’ll come in to your business as a blank slate, and consequently won’t have to ‘unlearn’ any habits they’ve picked up while working for someone else. As they’ll be looking at your process from the outside, they may also be able to see flaws that those currently involved with your business may be unaware of.

    Furthermore, if you choose your apprentices well, they will always be eager to learn, bringing fresh eyes and an enthusiastic attitude to the role. This can help your established employees see everyday tasks in a new light, which can be a big driver of growth and innovation.

    With there being no guarantee that the current skills shortage in the engineering and manufacturing industry will come to an end any time soon, the best way of securing your business’s long-term success may well be recruiting your own apprentices. Until changes are made to the education system and the stigmas attached to the word ‘engineering’ are tackled, this is set to be the case for years to come.

    In conclusion, if you want to ensure your business has access to a talented pool of employees while your competitors struggle to fill important roles, consider investing in your own apprenticeship scheme in order to ensure your continued growth. 

    Paul Sweeting, technical director at the Bradbury Group, holds a BSc in Engineering Design and Innovation from Sheffield Hallam University. With over 10 years’ experience in physical security engineering, Paul has played a crucial part in Bradbury’s rapid expansion.


    Jack Wynn

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