For some, it was “a walk down memory lane,” for others, confirmation that they were better off in the boardroom than on the shop floor.
But, for everyone it was an impressive demonstration of the quality of training and apprentices learning their skills at the recently opened AMRC Training Centre on South Yorkshire’s Advanced Manufacturing Park.
Bosses from some of South Yorkshire’s leading steel and engineering companies got the chance to demonstrate their shop floor skills under the eagle eye of their own apprentices when the centre staged its ‘Back to the Floor’ initiative to mark National Apprenticeship Week.
Training director Alison Bettac led by example, along with Mick Hood from Tata Steel, Clive Porter from Darron SBO, Mark Webber from Tinsley Bridge, David O’Hara from MTL Group, Vince Middleton from Newburgh Engineering, James Selka from Aesseal, Craig McKay from Evenort and Charles Robinson from Helix Tools.
Tata Speciality Steel’s HR director Mick Hood was quickly back in the groove, although not so keen on being reminded of the discipline side of being an apprentice.
“It’s a walk down memory lane for me – it takes me back 34 years to when I started my apprenticeship.
“It gives me a real insight into modern training which is important because we have our own people here,” he said, before admitting: “There is something very uncomfortable about being disciplined by authority figures, something I’m used to doing rather than having done to me.”
Tinsley Bridge’s managing director, Mark Webber, found things a bit more challenging.
“I learned that I probably made the right decision to get out of workshop engineering. I’m certainly not a natural,” he admitted.
“I got a degree in engineering, but I’ve never even done actual engineering as a job since university. For me, it’s more about the wider experience of spending time in the Training Centre and working with two of our apprentices here.
AESSEAL production and HR director James Selka did do an apprenticeship, but described the AMRC Training Centre experience as streets ahead of what he had done.
“I did do an apprenticeship. This is streets ahead. I remember being really bored in my first year. Here, everyone’s engaged, and they seem much more mature than we were,” he said.
The lack of attention in his youth showed through if the comments of his supervisor – AESSEAL apprentice James Newsam, were anything to go by.
“He’s been good overall. He’s a bit less skilled in terms of measuring and centre punching, but he has improved through the day. He’d maybe better stick to his office job,” said the younger James.
Among those who had never been on the shop floor was chartered accountant David O’Hara, MTL Group’s financial director.
“It’s been excellent. I’ve found that I am a born welder. It’s taken me 53 years to find my true vocation,” he enthused.