Sheffield Forgemasters' New record apprentice intake for 2008

Published: 11 September 2008

Sheffield Forgemasters has taken on a record breaking new batch of apprentices to add to its specialist engineering workforce.

The latest crop of 32 apprentices takes the total to 70 as the historic company builds for the future and continues to take a proactive role in putting crucial engineering skills back into the industry through its outstanding apprenticeship scheme.

Sheffield Forgemasters will train 70 apprentices over the coming year - the majority in their second, third and fourth-years, but 32 of which are new school and college graduates studying for specialist careers and roles in all departments across the 64-acre Brightside Lane site.

Graham Honeyman, chief executive at Sheffield Forgemasters, said: "We offer our apprentices a great opportunity to pursue rewarding careers with a forward thinking company that they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to embrace.

"Over the years, we have visited schools and have hosted visits from schools all over the country to explain what we do here and to raise the profile of engineering as an important career choice. Consequently, we have masses of interest and the calibre of students coming to serve apprenticeships at Sheffield Forgemasters is rising every year. This is the highest standard of intake we have seen yet.

"A lot of employers don't see the value of this long-term commitment to skills training but it is absolutely essential that companies see this. In today's global market we need to have a highly competitive workforce. We face growing competition in our industry from countries like China and India who can undercut us in labour costs but it's in the high quality, added value areas that we can make a difference."

A record number of 267 CVs were whittled down by a rigorous interview process to the 32 successful applicants. Apprentices now take up nearly 10 per cent of the workforce at Sheffield Forgemasters.

The company's apprentices have repeatedly won top industry awards for their efforts picking up the EEF Young Engineer of the Year award and the Metals Industry Apprentice of the Year.

Sheffield Forgemasters works with Semta, the Sector Skills Council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies and MetSkill, which forms part of the Semta Group, to recruit and train the new apprentice intake.

Philip Whiteman, chief executive at Semta, said: "Sheffield Forgemasters has a solid commitment to providing the best possible future for these youngsters. The engineering and manufacturing sector employs a workforce of 2 million people in the UK and contributes 40% of UK exports - that's £137 billion per annum. According to research by Semta, skills vacancies in the sector are costing the economy £823 million per year. Moreover, between now and 2014, thanks to the retiring of skilled technicians of the baby boomer generation, engineering companies will have a net shortfall of more than 230,000 jobs. Increasing numbers of apprenticeships is a key part of the solution.

"Sheffield Forgemasters understands that to meet this demand, not only do we have to up-skill the current workforce, but also attract a new generation of young engineers. Semta is highly supportive of the company's proactive role in training these young people."

Neil Smith, Managing Director, MetSkill added: "All apprentices taken on at Forgemasters have full employment from day one and are supported in every way to push themselves and be successful. The company has a very positive attitude to investing in these students and we have no shortage of people wanting to join their training scheme."

In addition to learning new skills through specific training modules, the Sheffield Forgemasters apprentices will learn from individually appointed mentors at the plant, many of whom have more than 30 years of industry experience and knowledge to pass on.