Young Engineers Choose Apprenticeships Over Formal Study
Young apprentices, Tom and Charlotte, meet chairman of Rolton Group Peter Rolton
As British engineering faces a serious skills shortage, Rolton Group offers modern apprentice programs to encourage more young people to build successful careers in engineering.
The Northamptonshire-based engineering consultancy which has worked with clients including Jaguar Land Rover, BMW and IKEA, aims to offer an alternative way into rewarding careers for young people who may be deterred from traditional higher education.
“Apprenticeships are a great way for young engineers to join the industry. With the ever increasing costs of higher education putting people off, learning on the job through structured apprenticeships is just as good an option for a successful career,” says chairman of Rolton Group, Peter Rolton.
For nineteen-year-old business administration apprentice, Charlotte Nimmo, the benefits are huge. “On the job learning allows you to understand the work you are doing as you can apply it to real life,” she says.
Tom Bishop, a seventeen-year-old built environment engineering apprentice, was attracted by “the opportunity to work alongside knowledgeable and experienced engineers.”
According to the think tank IPPR, the higher education system is producing 40,000 fewer engineering graduates than are needed per year to meet a growing demand.
“The greatest problem facing our education system is that it is not geared up to providing what industry, business and commerce require,” says Baron Baker of Dorking, speaking at the ninth Sir John Cass’s Foundation Lecture at London’s Cass Business School.
For the man behind the introduction of the national curriculum for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 1988, practical, vocational hands-on learning is now key.
“None of the great investors, James Watt, Arkwright with his spinning jenny, Wedgewood with his pottery, Brunel father and son, not one of them went to a university but almost all started out as apprenticeships, usually at the age of fourteen.”
For Baron Baker, what is needed today is the “intelligent hand”; young people with a combination of practical and theoretical skills. “When we talk of a skills shortage, we talk of a shortage of intelligent hands,” he says.
Rolton Group is helping to produce more intelligent hands; offering a graduate training program and sponsoring a student for an Arkwright Scholarship, a scheme which encourages teenagers to pursue careers in engineering.
“We recognize that investing in this area is crucial,” says Peter, “not only in ensuring our future success, but also that of the wider industry.”
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