Pioneering engineering company takes apprentices seriously

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One of the South West’s most successful manufacturing companies, Renishaw, works with Gloucestershire College on apprenticeship schemes.

There are currently 13 Embedded Electronic Design and two Electronic Design, higher (degree) apprentices being trained with the college, which began offering higher degree apprenticeship schemes in 2010.

Four Embedded Electronic apprentices are being supported by Gloucestershire College as they complete their final years at UWE Bristol.

Pete Leonard, Electronic Design Manager at Renishaw, said: “Gloucestershire College is committed to getting the best out of our apprentices and providing the academic knowledge they need to complete their BEng degree courses. These higher apprenticeship schemes are delivered over five years with the first three delivered by Gloucestershire College, and the later years in UWE Bristol. They are normally on a day release basis, but for the first year the college offers additional day release to support the Practical Engineering Operations, delivered to NVQ standards, complimenting practical skills learnt in industry, alongside health and safety.”

Pete praised the working relationship between Renishaw and Gloucestershire College. “We receive a very high level of support on the college campus and at Renishaw, with regular visits to review the standards and progress for each individual apprentice.”

Apprenticeship (Higher) schemes in general are an alternative approach to developing a successful career without attending full-time at university. They have the added advantage of the integration in industry. With that comes the knowledge and involvement in company processes, tools and standards needed to develop into an engineer. There is also the additional support from experienced engineers to encourage apprentices to develop real projects.

Julie Russell is the Apprentice Lead at Renishaw. She said: “We benefit greatly from having apprentices in different departments. It ensures we have a pool of talent allowing us to plug foreseen skills gaps where recruiting experienced people may be a challenge.

“Apprentices also bring skills and new ideas with them and help us challenge perspectives and ways of working. It’s also a great opportunity for the development of existing staff, as they can become apprentice mentors and placement managers, or perhaps even be inspired to undertake an apprenticeship themselves, as part of upskilling.”

Enthusiasm drives Tom’s success at Hatton Court Hotel

Tom Blackford works as an apprentice hospitality supervisor at Hatton Court Hotel near Gloucester, undertaking his apprenticeship through Gloucestershire College.

Steve Gardner-Collins, Sales Director at The Hatton Collection, the family-owned group of independent hotels and inns which owns Hatton Court, is full of praise for Tom’s enthusiasm and positive attitude.

He said: “Tom is willing to meet the needs of our customers and his employers, and it’s a refreshing approach.

“We work with Gloucestershire College because they offer a wide variety of courses which go handin-hand with our business needs.

“The business team has been a huge support to provide the links we needed for the courses themselves. Our apprentices can have a hands-on approach to their work and learn at the same time.

“Apprentices have become a valuable asset in our hotels and pubs,” added Steve. “Learning and development are a big focus for us and a driver of our success.

“And we benefit from our apprentices bringing a fresh approach and current knowledge of the hospitality sector which they are learning through the academic side of their apprenticeship. It’s a win-win from all angles.”

Remy has his head in the clouds, but his feet trained to the ground

Gloucester-based thinkproject UK recruited Remy Thompson in April 2018, and he began an apprenticeship on software testing the following July. It has been a big success.

Thinkproject UK’s cloud-based contract and event management and reporting system (CEMAR) helps quantity surveyors, engineers, facilities managers, project managers and project professionals in construction and engineering. It reduces time spent on administration and frees teams up to concentrate on innovation and teamwork.

Nick Oram, Quality Manager at thinkproject, says the level of support that the apprentice and the company receive from Gloucestershire College’s apprenticeship team is exemplary.

“Our apprentices are in constant contact with the college and we are kept informed of their progress and asked to report how things are going in the work environment. The checking procedure – ensuring the apprentice is getting exposure to the correct areas during their working day – is very helpful and allows the company to ensure the right balance is achieved at all times.

“The college also ensures that the apprentice has successfully completed foundation level ISTQB certification, which positions Remy perfectly to move forward with his career as a Test Analyst.”

Nick says that apprenticeships are usually scheduled for 18 months, but are often completed within a year.

“Apprentices are invaluable to our company, because they make an everincreasing contribution while they are learning the tools of the trade.”

Remy added: “The apprenticeship route is a brilliant entry point to a profession. I’ve been able to learn from practising industry professionals at work, and experienced tutors at college. The progression from the college course was fantastic to bring me from knowing very little regarding the intricacies of software testing to having industry-recognised qualifi cations and accreditations.”

Remy is one of a number of staff at thinkproject UK to successfully complete an apprenticeship with Gloucestershire College. These individuals have become crucial to the company’s success.

Gloucestershire College

Gloucestershire College works collaboratively with more than 1,200 employers to deliver training across 17 industries including Engineering, Professional Services and Construction. Each year it is seeing an increase in the number of employers keen to grow their own talent in-house via apprenticeships, rather than relying solely on external recruitment to bring in the skills required. The introduction of apprenticeship standards (schemes of work developed by employers) means that apprenticeship training is now even more deeply rooted in the requirements of the job.

Andy Bates, Chief Financial Offi cer at Gloucestershire College, said: “One of the college’s key focuses is our higher level apprenticeship programmes which enable people to gain qualifi cations right up to degree level, without attending University. These allow employers to gain access to highly technical and specialised people who can be developed in line with their organisational goals. Our latest Cyber Degree Apprenticeship which we are delivering in partnership with University of the West of England (UWE), launched last September.” “Our