Continuing the tradition

Sheffield’s DavyMarkham is preparing to bring in its next intake of apprentices and predicts that 20 per cent of its shopfloor workers will be apprentices by 2010.

One year on from re-establishing its in-house apprenticeship scheme, Sheffield’s DavyMarkham says it is renewing its commitment to traditional skills training by taking on more apprentices.

The heavy engineering company predicts that by 2010, 20 per cent of its shop floor workers will be apprentices.

Last autumn, the first set of seven apprentices started a three to four year programme, which will lead to NVQ Level Three and BTEC diploma qualifications. The company is now looking to recruit further trainees for the next intake this month.

The scheme is managed by Sheffield’s MetSkill and involves external training delivered by the Strategic Training Partnership (STP) and RotherhamCollege of Arts & Technology.

Kevin Parkin, managing director of DavyMarkham, said: ‘It was an important step for the company, because it meant we could recruit and train young people to take on the roles of our skilled tradesmen, who will one day retire.

‘For many years, the company used to run its own highly acclaimed apprenticeship scheme, but it was discontinued in the mid-80s as non-essential, which, looking back, was clearly a mistake. Now, we have started building for the future.’

He added: ‘If the first intake is any guide, these apprentices will bring more usable skills to the company than many degree-trained graduates, who still have to grasp the practical aspects of manufacturing.

‘What’s more, if they choose, our apprentices can study to degree level at a later stage, as five of our current employees have already done, but without a huge debt around their necks.’

DavyMarkham’s works manager, Chris Bowler, who began his apprenticeship at the same site 27 years ago, liaised with MetSkill, the strategic skills body for the metals industry, regarding the training of the company’s next generation of machinists, fabricators and fitters.

MetSkill’s apprenticeship manager, Simon Prince, assessed the company’s training requirements and put together a bespoke apprenticeship programme, which includes a period of off-site training at RotherhamCollege and an NVQ Level Two course in Performing Engineering Operations at STP’s training centre in Rotherham.

Bowler said: ‘Our first batch of apprentices has returned from intensive off-site training and are now being mentored by our skilled craftsmen, who are passing on their skills and continuing a tradition in Sheffield that dates back to the 15th century.’