Precision turned parts manufacturer Currie & Warner is a long-time apprenticeship provider that has reaped the benefits of a carefully considered training and development programme. Since the first apprentice walked through their doors in 1983, many of these young people have risen through the ranks to form part of the Birmingham based company’s leadership team.
So what’s their secret to apprentices viewing their employer as a whole-career option?
Works Manager Gary McCool was the first of many apprentices who developed under the Currie and Warner apprenticeship scheme and now, three decades later is managing Currie & Warner’s apprentice programme.
He says: “We see our apprenticeship programme as the future of our business. We class our Company as being World class in a very competitive market place, for us to advance and keep a head of our competitors we need to recruit and train suitable people to our specific methods. We’ve been pretty successful with it over the years. For example, our newly promoted Commercial Director and General Manager- Tony Fox was an ex-apprentice, as well as all the members of our production engineering team. We really see apprenticeships as being a foothold to secure a successful engineering career."
The company recruits apprentices in a variety of areas and skill sets, including higher level and mature apprentices. To help find the best talent, Currie & Warner has turned to EEF for the past 11 years. The EEF helps draft the job descriptions, advertise the vacancies, conduct initial screening process and help conduct assessments and interviews. Gary says: “Working with the EEF team saves a lot of time; it weeds out the non-contenders. They’ve been doing this for a number of years, so you can trust their vetting process.”
Getting the right apprentices in the door is only the first step, however. The challenge is to help the apprentices develop new skills and stay with the company for the long haul to fill upcoming skills gaps. As EEF’s recently released Skills Report identified, many manufacturing companies are worried about filling these skills gaps now and in the future.
“We find there’s loyalty shown from the apprentice and from the company if you educate them in your way of thinking. Too many engineering companies aren’t using apprenticeships correctly. Don’t just view apprenticeships as cheap labour. You need to have training that really keeps their interest and help them progress, so both company and apprentice will hopefully have a long and successful employment relationship,” Gary explains.
Currie & Warner looks to EEF’s Technology Training Centre to provide hands-on training to provide a strong engineering base for its apprentices. The training includes the necessary assessments for necessary qualifications, such as NVQ. Gary says the company appreciates that EEF’s training is versatile and can be adapted to suit his company’s particular skills gaps and needs.
Currie & Warner’s approach has paid off, most recently with its second-year apprentice, Alana winning an apprentice award at the EEF Future Manufacturing Awards.
Ultimately, the company views its apprenticeship programme as a talent pipeline for securing its future.