Apprenticeships have surged in popularity in recent years. Skilled workers who have on-the-job experience in their field are highly desirable to employers in an increasingly competitive job market. With the introduction of a higher school leaving age in 2013, a whole generation of 16 and 17-year-olds who may have otherwise left education and training are now starting apprenticeships instead.
As a company who manufactures bespoke, high quality products, we recognise the importance of providing people with unique skills that can only be learned through on-the-job training. By taking on apprentices, we can develop talented workers who are a credit to both James Tobias and the wider manufacturing industry, but also nurture local talent. We work closely with colleges to provide three apprenticeships. Apprenticeships also give us the opportunity to bring fresh ideas from a new generation to the company, enabling us to view our business and how we operate from a different and insightful perspective, leading to better product development for an ever-evolving work environment.
Although apprenticeships are a fairly new concept for us, we have been delighted with the result from our first apprenticeship offered in September 2012. Following on from its success we are proud that our first apprentice has become a Project Manager in our Design team, and is still working with us now.
Today, we are training three apprentices – each one a young person with a keen interest in our industry. Our Design Apprentice, Steve, has been with us since September 2015. He has been a fantastic addition to the James Tobias team, and has enjoyed learning about our different drawing and programming software whilst also experiencing our manufacturing process from different areas across the business, both in the factory and the office.
Steve said, “I am not sure what I would have done if I had not come to James Tobias, I had a definite interest in engineering and doing something hands on, but James Tobias gave me the direction I was looking for.”
Following on from the success of our Design apprenticeship, we are delighted to have introduced a new Construction apprenticeship programme in our Fitting departments. Starting in September 2015, two apprentices have been working on our site under careful supervision for four days a week. They have built up their knowledge and understanding of our products and are now able to install many of our core products without direction from our site supervisors.
Phil Anderson, Operations Manager, said, “It’s been great to work with some young people who have been a good addition to our Fitting team. It has added more flexibility to our installations and enabled us to complete installation with added efficiency. The apprentices are also a delight to work with, and it’s great that they are learning skills that can be diversified for their future.”
Our ongoing relationship with apprenticeships has enabled us to improve our training programme for the future, while giving us the ability to teach skills that, although are specific to James Tobias, can be applied and diversified for the future.
We are always looking at ways that we can improve our apprenticeship courses so taking feedback from both apprentices and those training them allows us to continuously develop the programmes and ensure we are providing the best training possible.
As James Tobias manufactures all its products in-house, from initial concept to installation, and continues to develop new products continuously, it means we require a wide range of skills. At the time of writing, we are halfway through our current apprenticeships but will continue to explore other avenues with regard to additional training opportunities and how we can stay true to our South West roots and invest in local communities.
We have experienced first-hand that fresh ideas and innovation can often be a direct result of investment in young people. We look forward to continuing to offer these opportunities and ensure continual improvements of quality and services, as well as the growth in our company, local area and the British and global economy.