Whale Tankers of Solihull – a specialist supplier to the waste and cleaning industries – yesterday became the first manufacturing company in the West Midlands to welcome Mr David Willetts MP, the newly-appointed Government’s Minister of State (Universities and Science) – Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The visit – coordinated by West Midlands Chamber of Commerce and Advantage West Midlands on behalf of the BIS – was made in recognition of Whale Tankers’ ongoing commitment to education and skills training, in particular the success of the company’s apprenticeship scheme that was established in 2003. One of the largest and most successful in the West Midlands, the Whale Tankers’ scheme received further recognition earlier this year when it became fully approved by the IMechE, the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
In addition to being given the opportunity to take in a tour of the Whale Tankers’ factory – set in its own unique 160 acre Ravenshaw site of meadows, woodlands and wet lands – David Willetts MP met with a number of apprentices, many of whom have either qualified through the Whale scheme or who are currently in the process of working through it. He also took time to discuss education and training issues with a number of other Whale employees, a large percentage of who are actively seeking additional further educational qualifications themselves.
Commenting on his visit to Whale Tankers, David Willetts MP said: “There are few companies that devote so much effort to training their staff as Whale Tankers do. I was impressed that their commitment to training runs right through the company from top to bottom. The rewards in terms of staff retention and staff satisfaction, not to mention sales, seem clear and I will bear what I saw in mind as we set about tackling the high economic inactivity rate and low skills base.”
Commenting on behalf of Whale Tankers, Managing Director, Mark Warmington said: “It was a delight to welcome David Willetts as the new Government Minister of State for Universities and Science to Whale Tankers, as it presented us with the opportunity to reinforce how important it is for people within an organisation to be offered the education and skills training that they need, as a means of helping manufacturing businesses such as ours to shine, not only here in the UK but on the global stage.
“As he witnessed first hand, we at Whale Tankers not only take education and training extremely seriously, the same is equally applicable when it comes to the field of product innovation. As David Willetts acknowledged, we as an organisation are extremely proud of the stance we take in relation to what we know are critically important and interdependent areas of our business,” he added.
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 concluded: “Despite the difficult trading conditions that have prevailed within manufacturing over the last 18 months, we have always recognised the importance that training has played in helping us innovate out of recession. By working proactively with all types and kinds of educational and training bodies, including the likes of the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) and United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), our apprenticeship programme and other training schemes have continued to go from strength-to-strength and this is something we intend to build on in the future.”