Apprentice scheme works to keep vital skills alive

Steve Tagg, group human resources manager at SFIL, with the latest batch of apprentices
Steve Tagg, group human resources manager at SFIL, with the latest batch of apprentices

Sheffield Forgemasters has taken on a new batch of apprentices to add to its specialist engineering workforce.

The 200-year-old company is continuing to take a proactive role in putting crucial engineering skills back into the industry through its outstanding apprenticeship scheme.

SFIL will train 68 apprentices over the coming year – the majority in their second and third-years, but 17 of which are new school and college graduates studying for specialist careers and roles in all departments across the 64-acre Brightside Lane site.

This year more than 200 people applied for 17 vacancies, proving that apprenticeships are a sought after route for future employees.

Due to high levels of demand and skills, the successful applicants were chosen through an assessment centre and a familiarisation visit as part of the interview process.

Ryan Pugh, aged 17, from Greenhill, said: “The apprenticeship scheme here offers many career paths to follow for a great company. This is the best apprenticeship opportunity available.”

Graham Honeyman, chief executive at SFIL, said: “We offer our apprentices a great opportunity to pursue rewarding careers with a forward thinking company that they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to embrace.

“Over the years, we have raised the profile of engineering as an important career choice. Consequently, we have huge interest and the calibre of students coming to serve apprenticeships at Forgemasters is rising every year. This year was the best standard ever.

This year SFIL scooped the top prize of Large Employer of the Year at the annual National Apprenticeship Awards 2011 and for the first time ever featured in the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list in England.

SFIL invests more than £1m per annum in its apprenticeships training programme plus public sector grants with a range of qualifications being achieved from NVQs, BTEC, City & Guilds to undergraduate/post graduate level including Phds, lifelong learning plus work-based key-skills learning programmes. In 2010, 22 apprentices started foundation degrees to achieve technician status.

Kevin Newton, Academy Manager at Metskill, the strategic skills body for the metals industry - which selects and provides training options for Forgemasters’ apprentices, is highly supportive of the company’s proactive role in training new school-leavers.

He said: “Forgemasters has a solid commitment to providing the best possible future for these youngsters. Through our collaborative programme, they develop a wide range of skills and knowledge linked directly to their job. And gain a qualification that leads to a great career.

“All apprentices taken on at Forgemasters have full employment from day one and are supported in every way to push themselves and be successful. The company has a very positive attitude to investing in these students.”