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Engineering a great future

food science and technology careers

Andy Gray, Training Manager at Proseal UK, a manufacturer of tray sealing solutions for the food industry, discusses Proseal’s state-of-the art apprenticeship scheme and the benefits it provides for both the company and the young participants.

Whether or not the Government sticks to its previously announced target of creating three million apprenticeships by 2020, most would agree that apprentice schemes are vital to the future of British industry and creating the next generation of engineers and technicians.

The Proseal Apprentice Training Scheme is central to the continuing success and growth of the company. It helps to foster new talent, developing skilled leaders and innovators, who will help to shape how we heat seal food packaging in the future.

Apprentices have been part of Proseal almost since it was first established over 20 years ago. The company has its own state-of-the-art training centre at its headquarters in Adlington, Cheshire, which was recently awarded ‘Large Apprenticeship Employer of the Year’ by Macclesfield College. This has allowed us to bridge the gap between classroom learning and practical training and meant we can significantly increase the number of apprentices we take on each year.

Our apprentice scheme is scheduled over a four-year period. During their time with us, apprentices are given the chance to sample every department in the company – including electrical, assembly, manufacturing and motor mechanics – before selecting the area in which they wish to specialise. Typically, by year three, they are all but doing their preferred job.

Throughout this time, our apprentices receive practical, on-the- job training:

• they are mentored by our experienced training staff;

• they work closely with Macclesfield College, where they attend classes and have an assessor, who visits regularly to assess their work on site;

• they take part in off-site work at a variety of customer factories and other businesses around the UK.

Their progress is closely monitored, with constant feedback. This includes progress reports detailing their performance in each department and witness assessments in which we analyse their ability to carry out required tasks. In this way we aim to provide our apprentices with all the support they need to assess the career options that are open to them and to help them make the best choices.

Investment in young people will bring long-term rewards to both the trainee and company, so all possible measures are taken to make Proseal a warm and welcoming place for young people. For example, our apprentices wear red shirts for the first two years, meaning everyone is aware that these are people who have limited experience and exposure to the risks in the business. Also, they will not be expected to perform tasks unsupervised in this period and possibly even beyond.

The success of the scheme is demonstrated by the fact that 98% of our apprentices remain within the company after their training. Indeed, 23 of our current employees came through our apprentice scheme – including 14 who have now risen to become senior decision makers in the business, two of whom are from the original intake 18 years ago.

This year Proseal is in discussions to set up a partnership with another local college. Between January and May every year, we frequently visit schools, colleges and career conventions to raise awareness of the scheme and of careers in engineering. This enables us to invite potential candidates to look around the facility and understand what is expected of a Proseal apprentice.

Our efforts are rewarded when we witness the amazing effect the scheme has on so many apprentices. They turn from shy 16-year-olds into fully-fledged engineers, brim-full of confidence and know-how and ready to do good things in the world of engineering.

The Apprentice Training Scheme is central to achieving Proseal’s growth strategy and helps to ensure that high-quality design and manufacturing can continue to take place in Britain today.

Andy Gray Proseal UK Ltd

Telephone +44 (0) 1625 856600

Fax +44 (0) 1625 856611

Email info@prosealuk.com

Web www.proseal.com

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