Online directory launched to recognise West Midlands’ best employers for engineering apprenticeships

by | Nov 13, 2023 | Good news | 0 comments

An online directory has been launched to recognise the best employers in the West Midlands for engineering apprenticeships.

The ‘Engineering Apprenticeships: Excellent Employers’ online directory – West Midlands has been launched by benchmarking and insight organisation Next Gen Makers and is the first of several regional iterations of the online platform set to launch nationwide in 2024.

The free to access resource for school careers leaders is designed to help them to signpost students interested in finding companies for engineering apprenticeships to the best employers in their local areas, the kind of employers that go the extra mile in creating a great learning experience for engineering apprentices during their apprenticeship and creating quality opportunities for them beyond it.

Featured within the directory are companies that have achieved the Engineering Apprenticeships Employer Kitemark – a national employer accreditation backed by manufacturing organisation Make UK and achieved via the Next Gen Makers Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme.

The Kitemark has two levels, the Gold standard ‘Engineering Apprenticeships: Excellent Employer’ status and the Silver ‘Engineering Apprenticeships: Aspiring For Excellence’ status.

Companies with the Kitemark will be joined in the directory by those that are currently ‘Pursuing Accreditation’ and those that are ‘Benchmarking’ and best practice sharing, working towards ensuring their apprenticeship schemes are best in class via the Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme.

Over 25 companies are featured within the launch of the West Midlands regional directory including: LISI Aerospace, RBSL, Thomas Dudley Limited, Thyssenkrupp Materials UK, Collins Aerospace, Veolia Water Technologies, Whale Tankers, Fablink Group, KUKA Robotics, Ishida Europe, Brown Mcfarlane, Davicon Group and Sulzer.

Via a collaboration with the West Midlands Combined Authority, the directory will be made accessible to careers leaders within all schools across the region.

Throughout 2024, more regional directories are set to launch within the online platform throughout England, including: West Yorkshire, North West, North East & Humber, East Midlands, East of England, South West and South East iterations.

Next Gen Makers Managing Director Adam Tipper comments: “With an acute shortage of engineers in the UK, it is imperative that we attract young people to the sector, but also retain them once they start their engineering career via apprenticeships. However, government figures for apprenticeships show that hundreds of thousands of apprentices quit each year, because of a negative experience with employers.

“Engineering and manufacturing cannot afford such a talent drain, so it is imperative that we help companies that are committed to running engineering apprenticeship schemes to understand how to create the best possible apprentice experience within well-structured schemes. In turn, this will help them to retain the talent within their workforce during the apprenticeship and beyond.

“80% of the annual Kitemark accreditation process is based on experiential feedback from existing Engineering Apprentices at these companies. The other 20% is split between benchmarking analysis/ evidence of continuous improvement to the apprenticeship scheme and training provider feedback.

“The Kitemark is heavily weighted towards the feedback of existing Engineering apprentices – because who better to validate an employer for these apprenticeships, than the people who are living them right now. These are the stakeholders that matter most and quite rightly, based on their feedback, we are validating companies as a great place for other young people to start their engineering careers”.

Through the Next Gen Makers Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme, engineering and manufacturing companies all over the UK can benchmark their approach to running their apprenticeship schemes against industry best practice, identify where to improve and learn from a community of like-minded firms to share best practice and ideas.

Michele Bickerton, People & Development Director at Dudley based Thomas Dudley Limited, holders of the Gold standard ‘Excellent Employer’ status of the Kitemark adds: “Benchmarking as part of the Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme has benefited us because it makes you think about where you are at. We can always think that we are doing the best we can, but when you look at the benchmarking questions and answer them honestly, you can identify gaps. It does make you stop and think, which is a really good thing to do.

“Our apprenticeship Scheme has definitely benefited from the Programme. Because we have benchmarked and we are looking at what we can do better, we are doing a lot more for our apprentices.  If you approach self-reflecting of your apprenticeship scheme via benchmarking openly and honestly it will help you to identify what you are doing well, what you can do more of and what you can do better.

“Having the Make UK Engineering Apprenticeships ‘Excellent Employer’ Kitemark status is more than just using the logo, it also means that we can tell a story. Our apprentices are just brilliant, they work so hard, and they are our future. From an internal point of view, our apprentices and managers can see that we are getting recognition from it and are committed to it”.

The ‘Engineering Apprenticeships: Excellent Employers’ online directory can be found at:

For more information regarding pursuing accreditation for the Make UK backed Engineering Apprenticeships: Employer Kitemark or benchmarking your apprenticeship scheme via the Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme, contact