First rung on the job ladder

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THIS week is national apprenticeship week and local firms and apprentices have been extolling the benefits of the system.

Apprentices have a job and a salary, but get given time and support to train and study.

Engine manufacturer Cummins, in Royal Oak Way, Daventry, received an award for its work with its apprentices from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers this month.

Matthew Colley, Cummins’ plant apprentice of the year, is currently in his fourth year. He said: “I’ve always been into understanding how machines work and building things.

“I find the apprenticeship is very good for me. Apprentices get to learn the skills they need, have a job and get paid.”

Pam Stockley, one of the apprentices’ mentors at Cummins, said: “We currently take on eight apprentices a year.

“It means we have a partnership with Warwickshire College, so if we have certain skills shortages we can fill that gap.

“It’s important to the company because these are the engineers of the future and they have exactly the right skills for the job.”

Dermott Purcell, a third year technical apprentice, said: “I came here straight from Danetre School where I first did engineering.

“I did work experience here in Year 10 which gave me a taste of what it was like here. When I saw the apprenticeship advertised I went for it.

“There’s not many people my age who are on a good wage while learning important skills.”

Ben Duff said: “I started off going to college to study engineering, but I was in the same classes as the guys from here.

“It makes a difference because if you have to pay for education yourself it’s a lot of money, whereas Cummins will support you at college and even university.”

While many go into apprenticeships straight from school or college, Mathieu Obee started off in a totally different career. He said: “I came into the apprenticeship a few years later – I worked in warehousing before starting at Cummins.

“The main reason I made the switch was that warehouse work wasn’t challenging enough for me.”

In the Daventry area Cummins is not the only firm taking on apprentices.

Construction Futures, run by the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC), is the first scheme in the UK to directly link construction training with the planning application process.

Although it has mainly offered training placements, the Corporation says the number of apprenticeships is now increasing as developments get underway.

Currently there are trainees on site with Taylor Wimpey, as they construct 22 homes at Middlemore, Daventry.

Anthony Knight said: “I haven’t been here long but I’ve already learned loads, ranging from installing kitchens to fitting doors.

“It’s just been great to be on a real construction site, learning from experienced carpenters. The whole experience has been even better than I expected.”

Although apprenticeships have an image of being in the more manual industries, they can cover the whole spectrum of jobs.

Katie Ford, from Bugbrooke, is a nursery assistant at Little Dragon’s Nursery in Pattishall. She completed an apprenticeship in children’s care, learning and development.

She said: “I used to have an assessor come out and observe me in the workplace and also had day release at college.

“My assignments were always related to work too and that was great as I got to put the techniques straight into practice.”