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Employers should do more to inspire youngsters, warns boss

Young apprentices are dropping out of training because some employers are not providing a sufficiently rounded programme to inspire their interest, an award-winning manufacturer has warned.

Bored teenagers are switching off because they are not challenged enough by dull work placements with little variety to stimulate their interest or allow them to find their niche in a business.

John Nollett, Managing Director of Pailton Engineering, a global leading company in the design and manufacture of steering systems, said: “Some employers are letting teenagers down by taking them on as apprentices and then failing to provide them with stimulating challenges.

“Leaving someone to languish in one corner of the workshop because they seem to be coping with the tasks is selling them short. They could turn out to be absolutely fantastic at another operation on the shopfloor – and without trying, they might not even know!

“It is crucially important to allow apprentices to get a taste of as many relevant tasks as possible: it will give them more insight into the business, will keep them interested and may even reveal a hidden talent!

“Young people often get a bad press – but there are thousands of talented, hard-working, dedicated and loyal teenagers out there wanting to make their way in the world and they deserve a decent start.

“Investing properly in apprentices – both in time and money – is well worth it. Here at Pailton Engineering we have always understood that our people are the lifeblood of our company and we have taken care to nurture apprentices and grow our own talent.”

Pailton has been running a successful apprenticeship scheme for more than 17 years and many of its apprentices are still with the company, having grown and developed to become managers and team leaders, all of whom share an infectious enthusiasm for the company and their employers.

Nationally, however, nearly one-quarter of all apprentices  - 23.6% - failed to stay the course in 2010-11, according to figures recently released by the Department for Business and Mr Nollett believes not all the blame can be laid at the doors of apprentices.

“The failure of an apprenticeship is not always down to the apprentice – sometimes the employers have dismally failed to make the most of the opportunities they could have offered a youngster,” said Mr Nollett.

“By their very nature young people often don’t know exactly what aspect of their trade they are going to find the most absorbing, so it is crucial that they get a flavour of as many aspects of it as they can.”

Variety of training is on the minds of the company’s three latest recruits – Daniel Baker, Ellis Thompson and Lewis Brennan – who are all studying at Midland Group Training Services for their first year’s BTEC training before moving into the business to gain hands-on experience.

Daniel Baker said: “Having had the opportunity to look around Pailton I am really looking forward to working my way around the departments. I like design at the moment, but it could be that I enjoy something else more once I get the opportunity for hands-on training.”

Daniel, who studied an engineering diploma at school, was tempted by a career in sport but was won over by the engineering apprenticeship, added: “This is a great opportunity. I love practical things and to be able to learn on the job whilst getting paid at the same time is great.”

Whilst engineering wasn’t Lewis Brennan’s original choice of career – he wanted to join the army and fight for Queen and Country but his family had other ideas – he now knows he has made the right decision. Having studied a Uniform Service course at school, he is now thriving on his apprenticeship.

Lewis said: “I am really enjoying it – my favourite module at the moment is turning – although I am looking forward to developing further skills and getting the opportunity to put the theory I have learned at college into practice. I just really like getting stuck into what I do.”

The youngest new apprentice, Ellis Thompson, whose Grandad was a toolmaker, set his sights on an engineering career from a young age and studied for an engineering diploma at school, along with Graphic Design, Resistant Materials and IT. He is excited by the prospect of joining the Pailton operation when he finishes his first year at college.

Ellis said: “When I first walked into Pailton and saw all the steering systems I knew that was where I wanted to be.”


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