Thursday, July 2, 2015

News: Manufacturing SMEs urged to take on apprentices

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Small firms have been urged to take on apprentices to safeguard the UK's manufacturing future as a new funded programme launches in Rotherham.

The new Close Brothers SME Apprentice Programme is designed to help small firms that might otherwise find it difficult to take on an apprentice and has the support of the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre and the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA).

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, The AMRC Training Centre forms part of the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) group and provides training in the practical and academic skills that manufacturing companies need to compete globally, from apprenticeship through to doctorate and MBA level.

Specialising in lending, wealth management services and securities trading, Close Brothers has been a long-term supporter of SMEs, doubling its lending to the sector since 2009. A banking first, the scheme is open to all SMEs, not just those currently working with Close Brothers.

Under the scheme, Close Brothers will fund half of an apprentice's wages in the first year and a quarter in the second year, for 20 companies. The cost of training at the AMRC Training Centre will also be covered and there will be additional support with recruitment and mentoring.

Launching the scheme, Stephen Hodges, chief executive of Close Brothers Banking Division (pictured), said: "Apprenticeships promote company loyalty, close the skills gap and provide companies with their leaders of tomorrow.

"Finding appropriate staff and a UK-wide skills shortage are the two main issues facing the economy today, but most companies cite finding time, red tape and financial burden as barriers to taking on an apprentice.

"The opportunity SMEs have with the AMRC Training Centre is perfect; they have world-class facilities, an exceptionally high standard of training and our funding programme will help with the cost of hiring those apprentices. Together we are encouraging a fresh approach that will add real value to SMEs in the future."

Among those attending the event was Emma Cavill, Group HR manager at Cooper & Turner Ltd, an industrial fastener manufacturer, whose products are used across sectors that include structural engineering, rail, wind energy and oil and gas. Local operations consist of a manufacturing business near Magna on Sheffield Road, Sheffield, and the distribution / light manufacturing business at Canklow Meadows, Rotherham.

Cavill said: "Having apprentices is completely worth the risk and any reservations you may have. We currently have six AMRC apprentices with us in business administration, technical support and tooling already and love the commitment the AMRC make to the apprentices and our company.

"They not only increase the skill level of your company benefitting your existing staff, but also increase staff morale, as they see you are investing in your company development."

AMRC Training website
Cooper & Turner website

Images: AMRC Training

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