The ‘Factory floor’ should be filled with manufacturing and engineering apprentices

Joe Pacitti, managing director of Ceed

By Joe Pacitti, managing director, CeeD

THE recent Scottish Apprentice Week again highlighted the alternative routes to a future career open to every young person weighing up their future options.

After all the issues that industries across Scotland have endured these past two years, it is reassuring to see employers taking a long-term view and putting their resources into nurturing and encouraging a new cohort of young people with the hunger and aspiration to embrace a myriad of exceptional apprenticeship opportunities. More significantly, however, it again underlines that there are alternative routes to a future career and that the pathway out of school doesn’t need to lead directly to higher education.

The apprenticeship route is gaining great traction once again.

In the sectors where I am immersed, engineering and manufacturing, I have seen the evidence that those who chose the apprenticeship route and those who chose the higher education route, often arrive at similar points in their career in years to come. And these two sectors are not alone in this.

Of course, the engineering sector has long embraced apprenticeships and many of the organisations have a relatively well-oiled process for managing their future talent. 

Indeed, the engineering and manufacturing industry has long shed its ‘grime, grease and oil’ image. The industry has invested millions creating modern, clean environments and the increasing disciplines of digital future mean the world has changed for this sector and will continue to do so, with increasing pace.

And one of the reasons that companies need to encourage new talent from all avenues and paths is because of the pace of change.

Being able to recruit ‘digital natives’ in higher numbers into organisations large and small will have a massive impact on productivity and innovation.

We know the figures regarding the digital credentials of the new generation, and this is not lost on employers. The trick is to recruit and harness this as the companies strive for investment and innovative development in their own business. I think the apprenticeship levels of Foundation, Modern and Graduate can offer a really good way to match this up.

Equally, employers are very conscious that the need to bring in new talent and the training and development of people is crucial to the future of their business. This is not just about the war on talent, the effects of Brexit on labour pools and future competitiveness. I hear and see a lot about community wellbeing and care, creating a culture within the company that works across the business.

Many of the examples that stick with me are about the impact the young talent and apprentices have on the existing workforce, lifting them to be better managers or charge hands and, in some cases, leaders, by filling them with enthusiasm and rekindling their love of the job and what they do.

What more powerful reason is there to take on an apprentice in one of our engineering and manufacturing companies, other than knowing that you can make an impact on the future as you develop your skills over the long term, but also that you might just have an immediate effect on your experienced colleagues making them better?

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