Wednesday, March 13, 2013

News: Sir Alex impressed by young apprentices in Rotherham


When Sir Alex Ferguson talks, you listen. It's a rule that has seen Manchester United cement its place at the top table of world football under his 26 years at the club.

Last month, it was a room full of engineering apprentices, business people and intrigued spectators in Rotherham that got to hear from the man who has guided his team to countless honours and is recognised as one of the best identifiers and nurturers of talent in the country.

The 71-year-old Scot was speaking at an event at the University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing and saw the site of the new multi-million pound AMRC Training Centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park.

The £20.5m centre will provide training in the practical and academic skills that manufacturing companies need to compete globally, from apprenticeship through to Doctorate and MBA level. The focus will be on 250 students aged from 16 upwards, with apprentices concentrating on sectors such as aerospace, energy and Formula One.

Despite a desperate desire to play football full time, Ferguson's father insisted that he first did an apprenticeship. Sir Alex completed his apprenticeship in toolmaking at the Remington-Rand typewriter factory close to his home in Govan, Glasgow, also picking up man-management and leadership skills as the apprentices' shop steward during a national strike in 1961.

Sir Alex said: "My apprenticeship was a fantastic part of my life. I always knew I had something specialist to go back to if football didn't go well.

"Apprenticeships give you a work force, a regeneration of people coming through. We need opportunities for apprenticeships to give young people chances to get success. I'm delighted to be here and I applaud that.

"What we need is businesses to have confidence in young people. Manchester United is the best example of this. We believe in young people and it's amazing how they can surprise you."

After hearing from some of the AMRC's young apprentices talk about their experiences and the projects and companies that they have worked with, Sir Alex said: "I came here thinking I could teach you something from my experience but I've learnt more from listening to these young lads about what they are doing and what their ambitions are. It's fantastic."
Professor Keith Ridgway, director of the AMRC (and season ticket holder at Old Trafford), added: "It's fantastic that Sir Alex could come and see the world leading work that's taking place here at the Advanced Manufacturing Park. He is a big supporter of apprenticeships and ensuring these vital skills stay within the UK."

The AMRC Training Centre, which is due to be completed in Autumn 2013, is part-funded by the Regional Growth Fund (£12.5m) and the European Regional Development Fund (£5m) and will provide up to 250 students each year the chance to be taken on as paid apprenticeships with opportunities to progress on to postgraduate courses.

AMRC Training Centre website

Images: AMRC


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