All business persons when asked about their concerns will list succession within their companies as a major issue and yet frequently miss one of the most important ways to address this.

Since our inception Engineering and Manufacturing Network have promoted apprenticeships as a key part of any strategy with many of our board having started their careers as such in large businesses. To this day we actively involve ourselves in apprenticeship programmes promoting this not only within businesses but also to students who are yet to make a firm decision on a career path. In addition we have also created 2 apprentice hubs in the north of our region bringing students, educators and employers together to find opportunities, predict business needs and identify and recruit the right people.

There are huge advantages to employing an apprentice within your business, but don’t think these are purely financial (those speak for themselves). Employing someone straight from education allows the apprentice to learn the business from the ground up, bringing a fresh approach but learning whilst being mentored to become an embedded employee who hasn’t become indoctrinated in another companies processes and ethos.

As the years progress the apprentice will carry the training you have provided and instill this into those that follow, becoming a key part of your business and building robust succession planning into your company.

To use a modern saying ‘it’s a no brainer’

Member EDM Zone based in Newcastle. have strong beliefs in the values of apporenticeship training. Part of their buisness model is focussed around organic growth and development of their apprentices and MD Paul Wilson, leads this having led a successful career from starting life as an apprectice. We asked two of EDM Zone’s apprentices, Jenna and Elsie to discuss their roles and invovement, and provide us with their personal insight into their chosen paths.

Jenna talks about her desire to get into industry,without going down the university route, Jenna joined EDM Zone after  through a very rigorous interview process for her Admin role.

“For me personally, I wanted to do an apprenticeship because I didn’t feel like University would be for me. I had decided that despite wanting to continue a form of education, I also wanted to gain more experience in a working environment, and I felt like I was ready for it. I then looked into apprenticeships over the space of a year and a half and looking into the different levels and job roles you can do. This resulted in me coming to the decision that I wanted to do an apprenticeship because I felt it was best suited to what I wanted to achieve and experience.

Apprenticeships are beneficial for the company because it allows for young people to be trained in a way that can be specialised and tailored to the company, as well as opening up the company to new ideas and creative solutions to any issues. This also opens up the company to being more welcoming of any changes that could help better the business. An apprenticeship is beneficial to me because I’m gaining work experience and developing my skills while also continuing to learn at the same time”.

Elise talks about her joining EDM Zone from Newcastle college on their, STEM – “week In Industry” programme of work experience. They were so impressed that we offered her an apprenticeship after the course.

“As a Newcastle college engineering student, I had the opportunity to visit EDM Zone for a week of work experience. I started the week feeling intimidated as I was a girl who has never even set foot in an engineering environment before, however, the EDM team instantly put me at ease. Not only were they welcoming and friendly, but they were also extremely patient and generous with their time. This gave me the opportunity to ask plenty of questions and learn about their experiences from first-year apprentices to experienced machinist.

The supportive environment they created made for the perfect learning environment, which allowed me to approach the experience with confidence and really get stuck in. I had a full experience developing personal and professional skills, as well as knowledge of CNC machining (milling, turning, sparking and wiring) and the behind the scenes of the industry process.

I think the most valuable thing I’ve taken from my experience is a new thirst for knowledge of the subject. EDM Zone sparked a passion in me for engineering and machining and this is something I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life.”