Engineering Company Gets Creative In Pursuit Of Quality Apprentices

The UK needs engineers and this need will only keep growing. It is essential to makeATG_industrial-laser_241013 engineering and manufacturing careers more attractive for young people, giving them the opportunity to build solid foundations for future professional success through high quality apprenticeships. But it is equally important for sector employers to ensure that their apprenticeship programmes draw the most talented youngsters. A manufacturing company from Staffordshire has taken an innovative approach to this, using a competition among school students to pick out the best and brightest among them, Automation magazine reports on its website.

It is the second time KMF Precision Sheet Metal Manufacturing has run the competition, offering winners the opportunity to gain work experience at the company and potentially enrol for an advanced apprenticeship. Last year, 1,700 students from 16 schools across Staffordshire took part in the competition and were tasked with designing a mechanical clock. This year the bar has been raised even higher: pupils have to design, build and race Formula 24 cars.

Gareth Higgins, managing director at KMF, noted that the future success of the UK economy depends on more young people entering the engineering and manufacturing sectors. Higgins said that he was thrilled with the level of student and parent engagement achieved through this competition and the fact that it helped youngsters decide on their future study subjects. The company has tried to make the competition both fun and challenging while identifying the talented students that could one day reach the top of the engineering profession via the apprenticeship route, Higgins added.

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A Taste of CAD and Electronics

Last week I took part in a taster session to see the company and courses from a potential learner’s point of view.

First up was an hour with Ian Ward who teaches CAD courses.
CAD (Computer Aided Design) is used by a lot of people in the engineering industry and architects use it too.

We got shown the basics of the program within the first ten minutes and were then left to decide what image we would like to recreate from 4 images that have already been done.
Once left to our own doing, it became quite apparent that most in the session were quick learners and very computer literate. A few people had previously had a taste of CAD at school but said that participating in the session here was a lot different to school and they really enjoyed the hour spent on the computer. Ian also explained that there are always new versions coming up every so often and the learner’s who start in September 2010 will have the latest version to work on and it is more complex.

Then we went from the computer room through to the workshop and were introduced to Richard Barrett who was taking the Electronics course taster session. We were given a brief talk on the importance of safety and cleanliness when using the equipment we will be using. We were shown a computer motherboard and Richard explained to us that machines solder different pieces onto the motherboard, however when a piece becomes loose or needs replacing, an engineer will actually be soldering it back on, not a machine. 

Once given our task and overalls and safety glasses, we went to the workbench and got familiar with the soldering iron.

 The task was broken down and first we were given a small board, four pins and told to put one pin in each corner of the board. Once the pins were securely in place, we then had to solder two resisters to a small board (it didn’t matter where on the board as long as it was secure.)

First we selected where on the board the resister will be put, and tried to make the wiring on each side as even as possible. Once the resister was in place, we then soldered the two wires in place on the opposite side of the board. Making sure the resister didn’t come loose whilst trying to solder it on was a bit tricky but we all managed it in the end.  We then attached two wires onto the board by first stripping 1cm of insulation off the wire and securing it against one of the 4 pins that we put in previously.   
Once we had all finished the last step, we admired our handiwork and set about clearing up. I do have pictures of the finished product and will upload them when I can =)

Then I went back to the office to get on with my day to day things with a bit more of an insight on both what goes on in the workshop and also how it feels and how things look as a learner.
Overall a very good experience and I would definitely recommend it, even if you do not end up going on one of the courses, it is a good way to see if you actually like the kind of work and learning that will be involved to gain the qualification.

I will be learning more about other departments/industries and will keep everyone updated on my experience.

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Why should I recruit an ATG Apprentice?

I want to ask you if you have ever considered hiring an apprentice for your company and explain to you why an ATG APPRENTICE is a WORK READY Apprentice.
One of the common oppositions that ATG receives from employers is that whilst they would be happy to employ an apprentice, they often feel that the initial few months involves a lot of development and support from the employer in order to get the apprentice up to speed in the job that they were hired to do. This leads to many employers seeking other ‘quick fix’ options, such as using recruitment agencies or other expensive recruitment methods to hire experienced (and more expensive) employees.
This is where a WORK READY ATG APPRENTICE has helped change employers opinions. At ATG, an ATG APPRENTICE is treated like an employee whilst they train with us. From day one, they ‘work’ between 3 – 6 months full time, on a Monday to Friday 8.30am-4.30pm week, and spend 3.5 half days physically working on the practical skills required to do the job in their chosen vocation. This practical experience is backed up by a further 1.5 days a week in the classroom, and in most cases, a varied and diverse two week work experience placement.

Ok, I can see that ATG APPRENTICES are trained differently, but why should my business hire an ATG APPRENTICE?

Many organisations shy away from discussing the key element that most benefits their company. The simple fact of the matter is that an ATG APPRENTICE is a cheap, skilled and effective labour supply.
An ATG APPRENTICE is WORK READY. They can already undertake a large number of job duties in their chosen field and will have already gained a good level of qualification (both a technical certificate and an NVQ level 2.) This means that they require little supervision to get them up to speed and then start generating your business an income.
The cost of hiring and then employing an apprentice is considerably more cost effective than hiring a more experienced employee. If you build in recruitment costs, and the enhanced wages that will pay experienced employees, whilst you will usually see a more immediate return on your investment, the medium to long term return on your investment is dwarfed by the return you would get from investing in the development of an apprentice. You will need to spend some of your time developing the apprentice to meet your company’s needs which does have a cost implication, but in the medium to long term, the financial return will be worth it.

So, if I do decide to hire, what are my commitments to the ATG APPRENTICES’ Further education?

 ATG will take care of their further and continued education. All we ask is that you offer them a varied and diverse work experience in a safe working environment and that you allow them a maximum of one day a week over a 14 month period to continue their education in order to further boost their portfolio of useful vocational skills.

What support can I get?

The education of your apprentice is covered by the government. Over a 3 year period, the government will contribute nearly £15,000 to the education of the apprentice.  There are periodic incentives from the government and local charity organisations that will offer financial support to employers who wish to hire an ATG APPRENTICE. Visit our website for the latest news on these incentives.

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Director of Learning and Skills

ATG’s Board of Trustees have recently approved investment in new CNC machinery for the engineering programme.  This new equipment will give businesses the opportunity to train and practice on modern machining equipment supported by the latest CAD/CAM software.  With short and medium-length courses available, ATG is able to meet many business’ needs for training.

ATG’s unique selling point is its responsiveness.  We are not tied to academic cycles or set delivery patterns.  Employers can talk to us at any time about training and learning programmes.  Our longer-term programmes such as apprenticeships and NVQs can be delivered in a pattern and over a timeframe suited to the employer.  Our shorter courses run regularly and our modern training centre opens evenings and weekends if employers prefer to train outside of productive hours.  As a not-for-profit organisation, we take pride in re-investing our surpluses to the benefit of employers and learners.  Come and visit us to see the fantastic accommodation and training facilities we have as a result of that re-investment.

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