New apprentices join Sheffield Forgemasters

Sheffield Forgemasters has welcomed its new apprentice intake for 2014 - adding 15 to its existing specialist engineering workforce.

The 200-year-old steel company, which will train 39 apprentices in total this year, has taken on the new school and college graduates to study for specialist roles and careers in various departments across its site.

The sought-after apprenticeship at the engineering giant, which employs 766 staff, attracted 500 applicants for the 15 places, proving apprenticeships are seen as a recognised route for young people.

The new apprentices are Joseph Parfrement, George Watkins, Sam Quincey-Brooke, Nathan Sharpe, Luke Richardson, Reece Beadsley, Michael Smith, Daniel Turner, Jordan Guest, Connor Sedgwick, Jessica Price, Brandon Gethin, Jake Hartley, Joe Frost and Connor Reeves-Jones.

Technical sales apprentice Jessica Price (17), who passed an assessment centre, interview and a familiarisation visit, said: “Everyone has made us feel very welcome. We are already all helping each other and gaining an insight into different areas of the company. You need to know what you are selling otherwise you can't do the job properly.

"This is one of the best apprenticeship schemes in the country and I feel very proud to be able to have this opportunity."

In addition to learning new skills through specific training modules including NVQs and BTECs, Sheffield Forgemasters’ apprentices learn from individually appointed mentors at its plant, many of whom possess more than 30 years of industry experience and knowledge.

Sheffield Forgemasters chief executive Dr Graham Honeyman said: “Over the years, we have raised the profile of engineering as an important career choice. We have huge interest, and the calibre of students coming to serve apprenticeships at Sheffield Forgemasters is extremely high.

“The employment of highly trained specialists and the adoption of a strategic, co-ordinated focus on apprenticeships is critical to our future. This succession planning maintains, and builds upon, existing knowledge and ensures that state-of-the-art engineering skills are passed down through the company."

“We offer opportunities to students who shy away from traditional, educational-only learning programmes, for a more hands-on approach. Apprentices contribute to the continued evolution of the company and are offered permanent positions here from day one, which is a great incentive to excel. All Sheffield Forgemasters apprentices work on real life projects.

“Many of our apprentices bought shares in the company and have a great sense of ownership of the business."

Most engineering apprentices are familiarised with mechanical equipment, machine shop tools, processes and specialist areas at Tata Steel’s high-tech training centre in Stocksbridge for the first six months of the apprenticeships before starting at Sheffield Forgemasters. Apprentices also attend the AMRC Training Centre and Sheffield College.

Tony Goddard, senior training advisor at Tata Steel, said: “It's great to see another local company continuing to invest in apprentices. We are delighted Sheffield Forgemasters has again chosen to train its new recruits alongside the Tata Steel apprentices in our Stocksbridge training centre."

Sheffield Forgemasters has recruited a total of 103 apprentices in the last seven years with a retention rate of 95 per cent. In 2004/05 there were 600 employees with an average age of 50 and no apprentices. There are currently 766 employees and the average age is now 43.