Twelve fresh-faced youngsters have enrolled on a unique engineering pre-apprenticeship scheme in Birmingham. And the course will give the students hands-on experience and understanding of mechanical and electrical engineering at a time when skills development is at a premium.
Engineering business, adi Group, has taken on its latest cohort of apprentices from nearby North Bromsgrove High School, with which it has a long-standing relationship.
The first-of-its-kind mentorship programme began life in 2016, aiming to inspire 14-16 year-old GCSE students and give them a core understanding of engineering at adi’s custom-built workshops.
The course, which lasts two years, takes up roughly ten percent of the students’ curriculum time and rewards achieving youngsters with an EAL accredited qualification and the prospect of moving on to adi’s more senior apprenticeship programme.
Group strategic account director James Sopwith spoke of the challenges and rewards of the scheme amidst the pandemic: “During these difficult times, it is superb to be able to continue our pre-apprenticeship, despite the restrictions we need to apply when the students are with us. It is a great credit to the mutual relationship we have with North Bromsgrove High School that has allowed us to carry on in 2020/21, when so many other schemes have had to halt. This cohort brings the number of students who have benefited from our two year course to 60, which again is a big milestone for us”
Discussing apprenticeships at a time when skills development is making national headlines, adi Group founder and CEO, Alan Lusty, said: "Our philosophy really has been to keep giving these youngsters hope, encouragement and a grounding in the exciting work available in engineering, despite these uncertain times.
“We simply couldn’t cut the supply chain, not when the industry still has a lot of work to do to make up for its well publicised shortfall in STEM careers. With each new year of student intake, I’m revitalised and reminded of how I began my career as an apprentice, and I’m excited to see it take shape with the generation of today. I look forward to seeing their progress.”
The adi Group recently celebrated the graduation of last year’s crop of budding engineers from its pre-apprenticeship programme, with four distinctions and eight merits among the esteemed group.
And the news is certainly a welcome refresher of the national discourse, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently citing construction, engineering, mechanics and laboratory work as areas where there is a shortage of skilled labour.
But, with the cogs continuing to turn at adi Group, who count the likes of Coca-Cola, Cadbury and BAE Systems among its client ranks, Sopwith is confident that schemes, such as the pre-apprenticeship programme, can help steer the industry to a sustainable future: “What we have always done is focus on tomorrow. That is, how we can we breed continuity in the engineering industry but not just when youngsters leave education and instead inspire them while they are still in it,” he added.
“North Bromsgrove High School has been highly receptive in this regard. It allows us to build sustainable communities at both a local and national level. These youngsters will hopefully go on to support such vital industries as manufacturing, food and beverage production and automotive among others.
“I’m sure this new intake well help address a growing shortfall of skills in the engineering industry, with the hope that more businesses can replicate the same kind of mentoring processes within their own organisations. Only by working together can this be achieved.”
The adi Group has been voted one of the ‘Best Companies to Work For’ in the esteemed Sunday Times rankings, where prospective employees and students can expect ‘very good’ levels of engagement across a collaborative, productive and motivated workforce.