Make UK and Next Gen Makers are delighted to announce the inaugural cohort of companies pursuing accreditation for the ground-breaking Make UK ‘Engineering Apprenticeships: Excellent Employer’ Kitemark.

A broad range of manufacturers from across the UK are now pursuing Kitemark accreditation, which will be awarded in June 2022, whilst sharing best practice and learning from peers as part of the Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme.

Thirty companies are now actively involved in the Programme, ranging from multinational firms such as; Weir Group, Wienerberger, Eminox, Ishida Europe and KUKA, to SME’s including AE Aerospace, Lander Automotive, Brown McFarlane, Fablink Group and Thomas Dudley Ltd.

This national group of engineering and manufacturing firms are committed to achieving excellence in how they attract, develop, and retain young engineering talent whilst working to achieve best practice benchmarks.

One such company is Eminox, designers and manufacturers of exhaust aftertreatment systems for heavy-duty vehicles and equipment.

Natalia Bird, Head of Human Resources for Eminox comments: “Developing new talent within the business from grassroots is a key aspect of our people strategy. Our apprenticeship programme plays an important role in providing career pathways and salary progression for local school leavers.

“We are delighted that we have been provided with the opportunity to join the first cohort of employers who will work towards the new Engineering Apprenticeships: Excellent Employer Kitemark. Receiving this accreditation will help us to identify our strengths, areas for improvement, and how to get the most out of our apprentices whilst ensuring we attract the best talent to our business”.

Wienerberger UK, the UK’s leading provider of wall, roof and landscaping innovations employs over 1200 people in the UK. Rob Jollands, Engineering Training Manager echoes the sentiment of Natalia’s comment: ““At Wienerberger UK we have invested heavily in a state-of-the-art training centre to add to our apprentice’s experience.

“When we saw the Kitemark accreditation it seemed like the perfect complement to the work we have put in. It is nationally recognised and an important step to bridging the skills gap in the sector. This Kitemark will mean any applicants can see our training schemes meet the high standards laid down.”

In addition to being recognised for their commitment to developing young engineering talent, an appetite to learn, share and improve how they do this unites all within the group.

AE Aerospace are a machine to print, subcontract precision machining company for the Aerospace, Marine & Defence industries. Ian Bouquet-Taylor, Operations Director explains: “AE Aerospace have really felt the benefit of developing the next generation of young leaders across multiple disciplines, from craft engineering to continuous improvement, and from marketing to metrology and everything in between. Their insights and viewpoints have helped us see value in what they bring, shape our business for the future, and helped broaden our horizons.

“Equally, as an engineering company, we see the need to structure that training, to ensure everyone is brought along to be what they truly can be. From the way we recruit, to the way we develop our business and the career paths of our apprentices. The Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme gives us a base to measure ourselves against the processes of some of the most successful employers and training organisations, to share with them what we do well and to learn what we can improve upon.

“Our aim is to be amongst the first choices for apprentices when they decide where to start their career. For us the Engineering Apprenticeships: Excellent Employer Kitemark will show our future team members that we value them, their diversity, and that we want them to have a long and successful career that starts with an apprenticeship that sets the Gold Standard”.

Recognising the value and contribution of apprentices to their businesses is also something that member companies of the group are championing.

Tony O’Reilly Managing Director at Stoke on Trent based carbon and stainless-steel plate stockholder Brown McFarlane adds: “Brown McFarlane are delighted to join 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”.

Fablink Group is a privately-owned company established in 2005 specialising in the manufacture of metal pressings, operator cab assemblies, fuel, and hydraulic tanks. Since starting with a handful of employees, over the last 14 years, this has grown to over 600. A key attribute to Fablink’s success is its people.

Clare Hennessy, Head of Human Resources at Fablink Group adds: “Apprentices play a very important role in the Fablink Group. They are essential to the success of our future business and potentially will become our future leaders.

“Having the gold standard Kitemark will enable us to be seen as an employer of choice which will help us bridge the skills gap in our industry. We are excited to be a part of this forward thinking and highly credible process”.

Come June 2022, we look forward to seeing the Kitemarks being awarded and to these companies being recognised as exemplar employers of engineering apprentices.

An additional cohort pursuing accreditation for the Engineering Apprenticeships: Excellent Employer Kitemark opens January 2022, with accreditations being awarded in December 2022.

Stephen Phipson, Make UK CEO, concludes: “It’s vital that would-be apprentices feel comfortable and confident when selecting an engineering employer, who will give them the right support and training throughout their apprenticeship and beyond.

“This Kitemark complements and builds on the programmes that Make UK and Next Gen Makers have already developed which are key to helping place apprentices and enable employers to bridge the skills gap which is currently affecting the sector.”

Make UK and Next Gen Makers welcome any UK based manufacturing and engineering company interested in pursuing accreditation and joining the January 2022 cohort to email enquiries@nextgenmakers.co.uk for further information.