With the demise of British industry continuing at an alarming rate, it is reassuring to know that some manufacturing companies remain passionate about the prospect of reversing the situation through education and training. Enter local manufacturing company, Whale Tankers of Solihull, a specialist manufacturer to the waste and cleaning industries.
Having recently had its four-year intensive apprenticeship scheme fully approved by IMechE, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Mr David Willetts MP, the Government’s Minister of State (Universities and Science) – Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, acknowledged the achievement when making a recent visit to Whale in recognition of the company’s ongoing commitment to education and skills training.
Pictured at Whale Tankers’ Ravenshaw head office and manufacturing site with Mr Willett’s (centre) are, from left to right, Managing Director, Mark Warmington, HR Manager, Lisa Davison, and Whale apprentices, Ross Checkley and Jon Edmunds.
Also keen to heap praise on the ongoing success of the Whale scheme is the company’s service provider, The Manufacturers’ Organisation (EEF). As Peter Winebloom, EEF’s Head of Apprentice and Skills and General Manager of the Apprentice and Skills Centre in Birmingham said: “We have worked with Whale Tankers for a number of years and recognise the huge commitment they make to apprenticeships in the West Midlands. They work with us because we adapt the training to suit the employers’ needs and offer both in-house and on site training for the apprentices. As the recent Ofsted report on the Apprentice and Skills Centre revealed, our achievement and retention rates are significantly higher than the national average. The apprentices here learn a broad range of craft related and technician skills and will suit any employer wanting a candidate with a wide set of skills.”
Working closely with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Whale is now piloting a scheme that will see its employees apply for Eng Tech status, a professional qualification that is licensed to the Institute by the Engineering Council of Great Britain.
As Whale Tankers’ Managing Director, Mark Warmington comments: “Not only are we delighted that our apprenticeship scheme has now been fully approved by IMechE, we are looking forward to building our association with them through Eng Tech, which in itself is a qualification that is recognised worldwide.
“As professional bodies such as IMechE face aging member profiles, we see it as vital that young blood is encouraged to embark on careers in engineering that are both rewarding and fulfilling. What our apprenticeship scheme proves, particularly as those who have completed it will now go on to gain Eng Tech status, is that whilst University remains the most popular route of gaining professional qualifications, it isn’t the only one. This is a message that needs communicating more effectively and to a larger audience than it is now,” he added.
In addition to wanting to take a lead role in the drive to encourage people back into engineering, Whale Tankers places unprecedented importance on training as a means of ensuring that the skills base of its workforce remains as dynamic a proposition as possible. As Whale’s Mark Warmington concludes: “The only way we will continue to lead the field in our industry is by ensuring that we have a developing skills base with the ability to push forward pioneering new product development programmes. It isn’t rocket science, but we are patently aware of its importance.”
Alongside three apprentices who completed Whale Tankers’ scheme earlier this year, a total of eight Whale personnel will be the first to gain the Eng Tech qualification in 2010. Based on its success, Whale Tankers will look to encourage additional members of its workforce to pursue the qualification.
Commenting on behalf of IMechE, Regional Manager, Steven Gasser said: “The commitment that Whale places on education and training is absolutely incredible. They are a unique company in this respect and one that we all should be extremely proud of here in the UK. The importance of training is whole heartedly embraced at all levels of their organisation and we at the Institute intend to remain focused on nurturing what we deem is a very special relationship indeed.”