Developing tomorrow’s engineers

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One of South Yorkshire’s most profitable companies is pledging to invest at least £1.25 million in creating “the engineers of the future.”

Rotherham-based AESSEAL – the world’s fourth largest designer and manufacturer of mechanical seals – will today launch its own Advanced Apprenticeship Programme that will train at least 30 young men and women from the region over the next five years.

The programme, officially unveiled by Rotherham Labour MP Denis MacShane, includes two years off-the-job training, during which the company accepts it will get no real return from its investment in the apprentices.

AESSEAL’s production and personnel director Richard Cook attacked the idea that good apprenticeships could be delivered by a 42-week training programme and called for greater recognition of the skills of Britain’s engineers.

Britain has to stop devaluing apprenticeships and recognise that it took three to five years before someone could acquire the skills to be a competent machinist.

“People are deluded if they think the creation of an engineer can be compressed to this extent,” said Mr Cook, who left school with five GCSEs, became an apprentice engineer at a time when many companies were closing down their training programmes and later went on to gain a degree.

“If the UK is to compete credibly in manufacturing, it needs to re-evaluate the term ‘engineer’, giving it the esteem it has in other leading manufacturing nations, such as Germany and Japan.”

Mr Cook was scathing about training provisions in general in the UK, but full of praise for local specialist the Brinsworth Academy of Engineering – previously Brinsworth Training – adding: “Some organisations are drawing down millions in EU funds and not meriting it. But we use a local company, Brinsworth Training, because they demonstrated a genuine will to work with us to improve local apprenticeship provision.”