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With the UK struggling to fill the nationwide skills shortage across a variety of industries, apprenticeships are a vital avenue for businesses to consider. In line with this skills deficit, engineering solutions firm adi Group has made investing in future generations a priority, following last year’s launch of the UK’s first pre-apprenticeship scheme for 14-16 year olds. Alan Lusty, CEO of adi Group, explains what the scheme involves and how other businesses can easily follow suit.

Findings from the latest survey by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) show increasing concerns among employers about not being able to find enough highly-skilled staff, highlighting the widening skills gap in the UK caused by a lack of adequate training available to young people.

The need to teach practical skills such as engineering to ensure there are no gaps in the future workforce is paramount. adi’s pre-apprenticeship scheme does just that by introducing young people to the world of engineering at an early age, and giving them a head start toward a professional hands-on career when they embark on a full-time apprenticeship course at 16.

The scheme which launched on 15 September 2016 involves 12 secondary school students – male and female – attending adi’s workshop for half a day each week. Through a series of projects the apprentices will learn the practical, hands-on skills needed to carve a career in either mechanical or electrical engineering. These include welding, basic wiring, health and safety and reading technical drawings. Our highly-qualified engineers mentor the students which take place in a live working environment at adi’s workshop in Birmingham.

The two-year course, with a second cohort of 12 students joining in September 2017, runs for 32 weeks for the first year followed by a further 26 weeks the following year. This will occupy 10% of the students’ overall curriculum time as they continue to work on their GCSEs alongside the course. It’s the ideal stepping stone to a full-time apprenticeship.

Our new pre-apprenticeship scheme marks a significant moment in our efforts to make this link between industry and education stronger and in turn, help to close the skills gap. Our long-term aim is that the engineering and manufacturing industries will have a constant stream of young talented people who are well prepared for specialist roles.

As such, the end goal for adi is to not only invest in the UK engineers of tomorrow but to inspire others as well. The vision is that the model and approach can reach out to thousands of children, via a network of like-minded businesses interacting with their local schools.

The rest of the world is continuing to develop and grow its engineering proficiency and this creates more competition than ever before. If the UK is to maintain its lead as a true innovator, then we must work harder.

The skills shortage is a very real and very important issue – one that both employers and educators need to tackle head on in order to bring about positive change. More businesses need to follow our example by engaging with young people and encouraging them to consider engineering as an attractive potential career. As schools need to support these initiatives and recognise them as a vital pathway to a future career.

A key part of the solution lies in providing engineering training for young people before they make important career decisions. Our new pre-apprenticeship scheme links together industry and education to show school age children the benefits of engineering and present it as a hugely valuable career option.

We hope that by taking on new pre-apprentices each year we can contribute to closing the skills gap, ensuring that well-trained, dedicated professionals continue to enter the profession.

More businesses need to follow our example by engaging with young people and encouraging them to consider engineering as an attractive potential career. We believe our pre-apprenticeship scheme offers a comprehensive model, which we’re offering completely free of charge, and hope other schools and employers will use.

The sooner the skills gap can be addressed and overcome, the better the economic prospects will be for our country.

DA ADI WORKSHOP 85About adi Group adi Group offers total engineering solutions to some of the world’s largest companies. Engineering services offered include Automation, Automotive Services, Building & Refurbishment, Climate Systems, Compliance Solutions, Compressed Air, Electrical, Energy Services, Environmental, Facilities Engineering, Intelligent Building Systems, Mechanical, Plant Maintenance, Pollution Containment, Power Systems, Process Pipework, Project Management, Smart Metering, Specialist Welding, Telecom Solutions and Waste Systems.  Customer sectors span food and beverage through automotive, aerospace, pharmaceutical and defence and the company undertakes an average of 2000 engineering projects a year, varying in size and value.

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