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College apprentices help booming steelworks double turnover in Covid

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A RAPIDLY growing steelworks has forged ahead with major new contracts and doubled turnover during the Coronavirus pandemic.

S4S (Steel 4 Structures) has big plans after expanding its workforce to 30 staff – including four apprentices from Coleg Cambria.

Formerly known as Agrihaul, the Buckley-based firm pivoted in 2017 to begin delivering all aspects of structural steelwork, from planning to design and installation.

They quickly secured deals with giants of retail, food and drink and hospitality – Coca Cola, Greggs, Home Bargains, Heineken, and Costa Coffee among them – as well as infrastructure projects nationwide, all delivered from their 37,500 sq ft factory in Flintshire.

But while they continue apace, despite the challenges of Covid-19, the company is keen to “give back” to its community and the next generation of welders, fabricators, and engineers, including the apprentices they have at Cambria’s Deeside site.

Business Development Manager Shaun Bebbington said: “The apprentices have been a big success, we are very happy with their progress.

“The experience they are getting with us combined with the education from the college means they are operating at a high level already; we don’t have apprentices who make cups of tea all day, they are straight on the job because we know Cambria will have them ready to go.

“That has certainly been the case here, the four of them have come on leaps and bounds and have fantastic attitudes so there is scope to progress in their careers.”

Shaun added a skills gap locally will need to be addressed long-term and revealed both S4S and Cambria will do all they can to meet demand.

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“We do need to train and guide the next generation, because there are jobs out there,” he said.

“We are expanding year on year and will be looking to take on more apprentices soon, and that’s the case for several others in the engineering and manufacturing arenas in North Wales.

“It’s not just welders and fabricators that are needed; as we grow and continue to invest in new technology and machinery, we become even more of a turnkey operation doing everything from steel fabrication to blasting and painting on site, and we have our own steel erection team for site installations.

“And we do all of this efficiently with sustainability at the heart of all decisions – continuous development and improvement, that’s what S4S is all about.”

Lecturer Tony Commins congratulated S4S on making strides at such a challenging time for all sectors and said the relationship between the two organisations would continue to go from strength to strength.

“The union between Cambria and S4S is fantastic for the college, for the business and these talented learners, as well as the local economy,” said Tony.

“They are big investors in youth and like us are determined to plug what is a skills gap in this region, which is why we are encouraging school pupils to look at our pre-apprenticeship courses when considering their options. 

“As S4S has shown, there are opportunities out there with fantastic companies right on our doorstep in a whole range of areas – we are proud to be helping train and educate their employees of the future.”

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