North east manufacturer Unipres has welcomed 15 new apprentices following the appointment of provider Hartlepool College of Further Education.
After the opening of its Unipres Training Academy earlier this year, the company, which specialises in the manufacture of pressed automotive parts, appointed the College to deliver a bespoke programme, training learners to be manufacturing technicians.
The global company will then take on 10 apprentices per year through the College.
Maureen Askew, senior controller at the Unipres Training Academy, said: “As a company we’ve employed almost 300 technical and technical support apprentices since 1989, and apprenticeship positions continue to grow throughout the business with many other departments such as HR, finance, quality and procurement investing in apprenticeship positions.
"The industry continues to face a skills shortage and it is essential that businesses, like ourselves, continue to invest in training for new employees and the existing workforce. Unipres has invested over £500,000 in a new training academy with industry specialist equipment to enhance staff’s experiences in learning new skills, but we do realise we can’t deliver everything ourselves and continue to work with specialist providers to give our staff the best opportunities of success.
"Our biggest investment in skills training is with the Engineering Technicians of the future (a 4-year apprenticeship) and choosing the right provider is essential.”
After putting the work out to tender, although the furthest college away, Hartlepool College was awarded the training contract.
Maureen said, “Calculating our levy contribution was challenging to ensure we used the funds effectively, but we feel we have done this successfully and working with innovative providers like Hartlepool College, allows us to invest in apprenticeship positions in other areas of the business.”
Rob Dodds, apprentice co-ordinator at Unipres, said: “There really is a clear path to progression when you start at the company as an apprentice. After our apprentices have completed their three-year training, they are actively encouraged to take on a HNC qualification and then have the option to take that to degree level.
“People need to begin thinking of an apprenticeship as a solid step on the career ladder, putting you in a much better position than a degree.”
Darren Hankey, principal of Hartlepool College, said: “We are delighted to have been chosen by Unipres to deliver its apprenticeship programme, yet another giant in the automotive industry.
“This in itself shows the global standards of the students, facilities and staff, the College adheres too. We are confident that this will be a brilliant partnership with Unipres and look forward to seeing the first year of apprentice’s progress.”