Throughout May 2022, the first cohort of companies to pursue accreditation for the ground-breaking Make UK ‘Engineering Apprenticeships: Excellent Employer’ Kitemark have completed the accreditation process.

The Kitemark accreditation is part of the Make UK backed Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme from Next Gen Makers.

Around forty companies are now actively involved in the Programme, ranging from blue chip firms such as; Veolia, Weir Group, Wienerberger, Eminox, Ishida Europe, Thyssenkrupp Materials and KUKA, to SME’s including AE Aerospace, Brown McFarlane, Fablink Group and Thomas Dudley Ltd.

The Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme has continued to grow at pace since its’ launch just over twelve months ago – and now represents an online community of UK engineering and manufacturing firms committed to achieving excellence in how they attract, develop, and retain young engineering talent through best practice sharing, whilst working to achieve best practice benchmarks.

During May 2022, the accreditation process for the Make UK ‘Engineering Apprenticeships: Excellent Employer’ Kitemark has been undertaken by the inaugural cohort of companies, following the Kitemark launch on National Manufacturing Day in 2021. The only qualifying criteria being a minimum of three current Engineering Apprentices.

For these companies, this has included the completion of an Engineering Apprentice satisfaction survey by a minimum of 75% of their Engineering Apprentices, a survey completed by their Training Provider to gain their perspective of the employers’ approach and the company’s own self-analysis with regards to improvement, through the retaking of a Benchmarking Questionnaire initially taken on enrollment onto the Programme.

Since January 2022, a wide range of new companies have signed up to the Best Practice Programme and to pursue Kitemark accreditation; benchmarking their current approach to running their Engineering apprenticeship schemes against industry best practice, whilst learning from the successes of other firms to improve.

Companies now fall into one of two annual accreditation cycles, June, and January, and will be awarded either the Gold standard ‘Excellent Employer’ Kitemark status, or the Silver standard ‘Aspiring for Excellence’.

All companies are re-accredited each year to retain the Kitemark or improve their achieved Kitemark level.

Reflecting on his experience of the Programme so far, David Rose, Head of Quality at KUKA UK comments: “Through the best practice benchmarking exercise, we have been able to identify areas to improve and have actively worked to implement those improvements.

“Some of these improvements have been supported by the best practice insight we have gained from listening to other companies that are part of the group. The fact that this is employer led and you get to hear the things that are working for other companies has been hugely beneficial to us”.

Tony O’Reilly Managing Director at Stoke on Trent based carbon and stainless-steel plate stockholder Brown McFarlane adds: “Brown McFarlane are delighted to be part of the inaugural cohort of companies pursuing this recognised apprenticeship accreditation.

“We are proud of our success rate with apprentices, supporting their learning and helping them grow as individuals, who are going on to add real value and energy to the business. We are confident that working with Next Gen Makers, improving structure, using the online tools, and sharing best practice should enable us to further improve our approach.

“The Kitemark and being recognised as an excellent employer should help us to attract local talent, keep us focused on improvement and ensure we continue provide the best environment for our future apprentices”.

The June 2022 cohort of companies pursuing Kitemark Accreditation is now open. These companies working towards accreditation in June 2023, following a second cohort of companies which commenced their 12 months journey to accreditation in January 2022.

Companies wishing to learn more about the Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme and the Make UK ‘Engineering Apprenticeships: Excellent Employer’ Kitemark should email enquiries@nextgenmakers.co.uk

The deadline for companies to enroll onto the June 2022 cohort is the 30th June 2022.