Apprentices have been queueing up to secure places and study more subjects at the University of Sheffield's pioneering apprenticeship AMRC Training Centre.
The Centre is set to exceed recruitment targets when the final group for 2014/15 arrives in mid-March, bringing the total for the preceding 12 months to 250 and raising the number of apprentices in full or part time training to 410.
What’s more, apprentices have been staying on after their courses have finished to learn additional skills.
The Centre’s director of Ttaining, Alison Bettac commented: “A lot have asked to study additional modules – more than we expected.
“We have got 50 staying beyond the standard 26 weeks, which shows companies are buying into this model of training for their apprentices.”
Machining continues to be the most popular subject, confirming the results of the manufacturing skills strategy survey for the Sheffield City Region, which identified a significant need for new machinists to meet existing and increasing skills shortages as current machinists reach retirement age.
Meanwhile, the AMRC Training Centre is continuing to raise awareness of the opportunities available in engineering, which, in its case, span everything from advanced apprenticeships to undergraduate and post-graduate studies and continuing professional development.
The Centre is also planning a series of ‘Summer Camps’ for pupils from local schools, from June to the end of August.
Thanks to support from aerospace giant Boeing and the Prince’s Trust, this year’s Summer Camps will include three separate weeks of activities designed to open opportunities up for disadvantaged youngsters.
Most of the Summer Camps last two weeks and are packed with activities designed to build up the youngsters’ employability skills and help them to tackle design and manufacturing challenges, including training on virtual reality welding machines and 3D printers.
Bettac added: “Taking part in one of the Summer Camps doesn’t just help young people improve their employability and interview skills.
“It also lets them take away an example of what they can do, in the form of a component they have made by hand from engineering drawings, which many proudly show to potential employers when they attend interviews.”
The Centre opened its doors for the first class of 150 advanced apprentices in January. Numbers have since risen to more than 400, including second year apprentices who spend one day a week at the Centre.
Apprentices, aged from 16, come from a wide range of manufacturers with operations in the Sheffield city region, including Tata Steel, Rolls-Royce, Sheffield Forgemasters, AESSEAL, MTL Group and Newburgh Engineering, in addition to the AMRC group itself.