With engineering facing a massive skills shortage, representatives of nine local companies attended a special event at Leek College last month to showcase opportunities to students.
Staff from Stoke-on-Trent firm Unilathe and Leek company Charles Leek & Sons were among those on hand to talk to prospective students about careers in manufacturing.
North Staffs Engineering Group, which delivers training and offers apprenticeships with more than 30 local firms, and Job Centre Plus advisors also attended the event held at the College campus, in Stockwell Street.
Exhibitors also included Grenville Engineering, Prochem Services, H G Rewinds, ABB Group, C E Edwards and F Ball and Company.
Leek College is building a bridge between younger and unemployed adult people and the employers with vacancies to fill. And courses are increasingly being tailored to plug local skills shortages.
Curriculum Director Pete Turpie explained: “Events like the engineering showcase are great for enabling us at Leek College to speak to local employers about their training needs and the event has been great too for teenagers to come and look at what is on offer without being in a formal interview situation.
“We have already put two groups of young people through a 12-week course on welding and engineering and we have a third group due to start the training soon.”
The event was staged as plans are ready to go before Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to prepare for a £2 million investment in new engineering facilities at the College.
Leek College Principal Rob Morrey said: “Subject to planning permission, work is due to start on the new building this August. It will be sited at the bottom of Union Street following the demolition of the old California Mill and the new accommodation, featuring the very latest technology, should be in use by September 2013. It will allow us to train more Apprentices in engineering.”
Daniel Rowley, training assessor with the North Staffs Engineering Group, said at last Friday’s event: “There really is a massive shortage of skills in engineering. I think people still see the industry as offering a dirty working environment whereas, in reality, factory floors are now spotless and engineering can offer a really well paid career with excellent prospects and equal opportunities for both sexes. Firms like Unilathe, in Smallthorne, are offering trainees a starting wage of £200 a week progressing to £350 in their third year of training.”
Mark Chapman, MD of Congleton-based Prochem Services Ltd, suppliers of valves and calibration equipment to major water authorities, is among those looking for the right Apprentice. He said: “We are only a small team of three people but our turnover has reached £700,000 a year and we are looking for a trainee to help us expand.
“Our ideal candidate would be a 17-18-year-old who has completed his or her first year in engineering and would be interested in a technical role in our company. The right person could be in a very interesting and rewarding position after training.”
Photo caption: Charles Leek & Sons Company Director Michael Harvey talking to Leek College student George Kidd.