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Apprenticeships working well

An essential part of the business - that's how the apprenticeship scheme is seen at Allen Gears, a company that for long has recognised the crucial importance of recruiting and developing a skilled workforce.

"This year we have taken on two craft, one technical and one commercial apprentice," reports Julie Howells, Personnel Officer.

"Three of these are 16-year-old school-leavers. We have been working hard with schools in our area to help promote engineering as a worthwhile career and I think we are making headway in giving engineering a higher profile in the eyes of young people."

Considerable effort goes into developing the careers of ex-apprentices, too. Right now three are undertaking a degree course at Birmingham City University.

"We have continued to take on new apprentices every year," adds Julie. "In this type of specialist engineering business it's the only way."

Julie praises the role of Hereford and Worcester Group Training, specialists who mentor apprentices and help to deliver structured programmes of training during their four-year stint, working closely with Allen Gears.

Technical apprentice JackTunstall reflects the success of the scheme. Now in his third year of training, Jack has worked across the range of manufacturing teams and is now learning the ropes of sourcing and scheduling. Soon he will gain further valuable experience in design and quality areas and in Allen Gears Services.

"Earning money and being an apprentice is good news all round," he says. "I'm doing my Higher National Certificate course and National Vocational Qualifications levels two and three, and it's all being paid for. I'm doing something really worthwhile here."

By way of proof, Jack proudly collected the Apprentice of the Year award from Hereford and Worcester Group Training - in his first year.

Nick Bates joined the team of design engineers after his apprenticeship, in which he compacted four years of training into three. One day each week he attends university in Birmingham.

"An Allen Gears apprenticeship is a really sound start and I'm now in a challenging, worthwhile role at the centre of this business where I can continue to learn and help the company develop," he says.

A high proportion of today's Allen Gears workforce comprises former company apprentices, adds Julie Howells. Their unique contribution to the business - AND to our competitiveness as a manufacturer and aftermarket specialist alike - directly benefits all our customers.

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