RISING costs of university mean that many young people are turning to apprenticeships and other forms of on-the-job training to progress in their chosen careers – a route that national mechanical and electrical engineering consultancy Couch Perry Wilkes (CPW) welcomes with open arms.
The Government has committed to create 3 million apprenticeship places by 2020, with further plans to support the uptake of vocational training opportunities announced in the Autumn Budget to raise the national minimum wage for apprenticeships and introduce T-Levels from 2020.
CPW is already ahead of the curve in offering traineeships, apprenticeships and vocational training to young people across the region. CPW’s two East Midlands offices – located in Nottingham and Leicester – have a strong track record of hiring trainees straight out of school and providing them with opportunities to complete relevant industry-recognised qualifications and in-house mentoring.
Three such employees are Irene Rodriguez Lamoso, Fred Stannard and Harry Stannard. Irene, originally from Spain, was studying an electrical engineering course in her hometown of Galicia when a friend – and incidentally, another CPW employee – mentioned that the company had a trainee position available. Irene took a chance and has never looked back.
She said: “Everyone at CPW was fantastic when I first arrived, not only explaining how the country and Nottingham worked but also helping me with my paperwork. They totally integrated me into the group and made me feel really welcome – I am very thankful to them all.”
Fred Stannard joined CPW more than ten years ago and is based at the Nottingham office. After finishing his GCSEs, he become a semi-professional footballer but his sporting career was cut short due to injury. He then looked for a career in construction and CPW was the perfect fit.
“CPW was brilliant as they paid for my apprenticeship and for me to take my ONC and HNC qualifications. They really look after the apprentices that come through the door and give them the best possible start to their career. They also take into account the actual person when hiring a trainee and if they will fit well into the team rather than just do the job which is great. It makes the company a great place to work.
“I’ve been with CPW for more than a decade and have progressed from apprentice to senior engineer. Apprenticeships are great schemes, especially in construction, but CPW really go the extra mile in training you up and making you want to stay and grow with the company. I am ambitious to progress further in my career but I would definitely like it to be at CPW.”
Working alongside Fred is his younger brother Harry – based at the Leicester office – who was persuaded to swap his job working in a factory for the life of a mechanical engineer. He said: “I was working in a local factory alongside my A-Levels for a few years but knew that I wanted a career rather than just a job.
“I saw Fred go through his apprenticeship and absolutely love both what he was doing and the company he was working for, so when the next trainee spot became available he encouraged me to apply and got the job! I’ve now been with CPW for more than five years and I’m so happy I made the jump.
“I think university is great if you know what you want to do but I would seriously recommend looking at your options and particularly investigating apprenticeships because you get to see the day-to-day job before you get over qualified.”
Ash Cowdrey, director at Couch Perry Wilkes, said: “Here at CPW we pride ourselves on employing apprentices and training them through mentoring and receiving qualifications. However we are even happier that so many of them stay with us for a long time after they have completed training as it shows we must be doing something right.”