Three Solihull school leavers who have recently completed an intensive four-year apprenticeship scheme operated by local manufacturing company, Whale Tankers – a market leader in the production of vacuum tankers and jetting equipment – are now set to embark on a long-term career in engineering.
Demonstrating the ongoing commitment Whale Tankers places on the importance of education and training, Anthony McVay 21, and 20-year old Dean Bell and Greg Smith, have just finished their Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering. The qualification encompasses an NVQ level 2 in Performing Engineering Operations, an NVQ level 3 in Fabrication and Welding and BTEC in Engineering.
Following their achievements, Anthony and Dean are set to continue training having enrolled on a two-year course in HNC Manufacturing Engineering at Solihull College. All three apprentices to come through Whale’s effective programme will, however, now hone their acquired skills within a dynamic and interesting engineering environment, whilst enjoying the remuneration and benefits of becoming a permanent member of the company’s workforce.
Commenting on the apprentices’ obvious success, Whale Tankers’ Managing Director, Mark Warmington said: “All three lads have worked extremely hard to achieve their qualifications, and as with all those who have passed through what is an advanced but traditional apprenticeship scheme, they can now look forward to a rewarding future with Whale and help play major part in the future success of the business.”
Indeed whilst many organisations could be deemed to pay lip service to training, it is an area where Whale aims to continue investing in the future. As Mark adds: “Despite the difficult trading conditions that prevail within manufacturing at present, we feel it is important to remain focused on all levels of training within our organisation as a means of innovating our way out of recession. By working proactively with all types and kinds of educational and training bodies, our apprenticeship programme and other training schemes have gone from strength-to-strength and this is something we intend to build on.”
In fact despite having seen an initial wave of support emanate from the education sector towards young people being encouraged to move on into further education, Whale is living proof that the route is not suitable for everyone. Concludes Mark: “When we first embarked on the programme in 2003, the focus was very much on further education rather than apprenticeships in engineering, however we are now beginning to witness a sea of change. This is extremely encouraging given the fact that through engineering individuals can enjoy a number of exciting job opportunities within manufacturing.”
Supporting Mark’s belief are the three apprentices themselves. Speaking of his experience of the scheme, Anthony McVay said he welcomed the opportunity to obtain a wide range of qualifications, whilst becoming a more disciplined and professional person in the process. “I have learnt a lot about how the business works and runs and the workplace experience has equipped me with a variety of skills.”
Dean Ball said: “Having the chance to work around the factory was very positive as it enabled me to team-up with virtually every employee. I particularly enjoyed the teamwork, communication and on-the-job skills such as welding.
For Greg, who claims to have always had an interest in engineering, he is now looking forward to the variety and amount of work that he will be faced with. “Although this can be daunting, it means there is a challenge every day.”
To achieve their qualifications, the first year was spent completing theoretical and practical studies at the Engineering Employers Federation College in Tylesly. This was followed by spells within each department at Whale’s Ravenshaw site, as a means of providing an insight into how products are designed and manufactured. The final six to twelve month were then spent in the business area that they are going to specialise in.
With seven apprentices still going through different stages of its apprenticeship scheme, Whale is this year looking to recruit two more craft and one business apprentice to bolster the figure to ten. Anyone interested in more information on the company’s apprenticeship scheme should visit: whale.co.uk