Training boss warns about growth as 100 apprenticeships sit vacant

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More than 100 apprenticeships for top engineering jobs are sitting vacant in the Black Country, raising fears that manufacturing still has a poor image at schools in the region

One of the West Midlands leading training providers believes recent growth in the industry could be hampered unless more people can be persuaded to take up vacant apprenticeship opportunities.

Gareth Jones, joint managing director at In-Comm Training in Walsall, says his firm has more than 100 positions – all attached to high value engineering jobs – that are available immediately, but there seems to be a reluctance to come forward and take advantage of them.

He puts this down to engineering and manufacturing still suffering from negative perceptions in schools and a lack of understanding on the career opportunities an apprenticeship could offer.

“Companies are coming forward and saying they want to invest in apprentices…that challenge has been overcome to a certain degree. We now need to make sure that, as a country, we’ve got a pipeline of young people or more mature learners to fill them,” explained Gareth, who runs the business with his sister Bekki Phillips.

“At the moment we have 100 positions vacant at our Aldridge academy alone and these are for full/part-time trailblazer courses with a job at a local manufacturer at the end of it. This means you can learn from the best trainers, on the best equipment and get paid for it, with the option of going on to do a degree at the end – all without the associated debt that can go with it. This is a £100,000 opportunity.”

He continued: “There is still a perception that industry isn’t a great career to go into and, whilst we are changing that, we need to do more to paint a picture of what modern day manufacturing is like.

“It’s robotics, it’s CAD/CAM systems, it’s precision CNC machines, it’s playing a role in making sure F1 cars get faster, aeroplanes are lighter, people can walk again – all played out in bright factories and with great earning potential.

“That’s the message we need to get across and we need industry to open its doors and highlight the magic of what is made right here on our doorstep. Schools, colleges and universities need to join us in getting this message out there.

“Why doesn’t the education sector award CPD (continuing professional development) points for teachers keen to gain a better understanding of industry and how it works? Try something different.”

In-Comm, which has been rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, has been offering industry and commerce a wide range of training and business solutions for more than 35 years.

The firm operates three training academies in Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury (both under the Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology banner) and at its original site in Aldridge, giving it the opportunity to support in excess of 1,000 learners every year.

Current vacancies range from apprenticeships in machining and mechatronics to electro-technical, technical support, quality, product design, tool making, welding and manufacturing operatives.

Gareth concluded: “Schools and young people looking to change careers are the natural places we first look when recruiting apprentices, but there is now no age criteria. The opportunity could also be there for a more mature worker, who may find themselves out of employment or would like to retrain.”

“To try and showcase what we do, we are throwing open our doors every last Friday of the month for people to drop in and see what we do, how we do it and to learn more about what Trailblazer apprenticeships can deliver.

“We are also launching a new referral scheme, where people can receive a £50 voucher if they refer someone who then starts an apprenticeship with us.”

In-Comm Training recently unveiled its new £3m Technical Academy at its site in Virgo Place in Aldridge.

The ambitious plan will create an additional 16,000 sq ft of space that will be fitted out with world class CNC machine tools, automation and a robotics line, fluid power stations and a dedicated electrical and electronics section.

For further information, visit www.in-comm.co.uk or follow @incomm_training on twitter.


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