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Engineering company say ‘Apprenticeship School’ has solved its industry skills shortage

A Tonyrefail-based plastics engineering company has praised apprenticeships for transforming its business after creating its own “Apprenticeship School”.

Having struggled to find staff with the right skills for the business, Ensinger decided to recruit apprentices to cut recruitment costs and address a growing skills gap in the engineering industry.

Following the company’s previous success with apprenticeships, in 2017 the company opened its own Apprenticeship School to help build a workforce that has the specific skills the business needs to drive growth.

Since opening its Apprenticeship School, Ensinger has been able to train 8 apprentices, equipping them with the essential technical skills, as well as practical experience.

Gino Abramo, Apprentice Training Manager at Ensinger, said: “Our staff have to be incredibly technically minded, as we need them to interpret complex engineering drawings and translate them into program code for controlling machine tools.

Although engineers coming from college or university have a lot of theoretical knowledge, we often find that they’re lacking in the specific, practical skills that we need for our roles. Having our own Apprenticeship School means that we can train people with a passion for engineering in a specific way to help produce staff with the exact skillset we require. In turn, our apprentices gain qualifications that will set them up for an excellent career. The individuals who complete the course are also guaranteed full-time roles with us, which has improved our staff retention rates.”

The company currently employs 12 apprentices across its Tonyrefail and Bridgwater sites, offering four-year apprenticeships in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering.

Gino continued: “80% of this job requires practical knowledge, so introducing our Apprenticeship School gave us the opportunity to train staff from day one and right the way through their employment, meaning that we could keep their skills up-to-date.

As a business, we feel personality is just as important as qualifications, because we can teach a person everything they need to know about working on a machine, but you can’t teach personality traits like a willingness to learn or being a team player.”

Level 3 Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering apprentice, Kyle Stark, is in his second year of his four-year apprenticeship.

Kyle, 21, said: “I assumed that I needed to go to university if I wanted a career in engineering, but knew that classroom learning wasn’t right for me. I saw the apprenticeship advertised with Ensinger and couldn’t believe my luck when I was offered the role.

I’m only in my second year and I’ve already learnt so much in that short space of time. Some tasks are challenging but we have lots of support and are encouraged to share our knowledge with the other apprentices, which is great for team building.

I think we’re especially lucky to have the Apprenticeship School, because it creates a sociable atmosphere and encourages us to work together on projects. We learn so much from each other, because everyone has different ideas and strengths. My aim now is to finish my apprenticeship, and eventually I’d love to become a Senior Engineer.”

Minister for the Economy and Transport, Ken Skates, said: “Apprenticeships are a proven route into sustainable employment and for businesses, can be a great way to tailor an employee’s skillset plugging any skills gaps.

With obvious uncertainties around every corner, it’s more important than ever for employers to plan for the future and be as resourceful as possible by future-proofing their workforces and nurturing the talent that exists within Wales.

Apprenticeship Week Wales 2020 shines a light on the contributions apprenticeships are making to businesses across the country and should encourage other business owners to consider the benefits that apprentices bring.”