Apprentices: investing in the future

Posted on 10 Feb 2016 by The Manufacturer

Having the flexibility to meet the needs of customers is key for EAL. Here’s how one firm in North East England benefited from EAL’s expertise.

Bringing training in-house has proved a shrewd investment for County Durham Engineering firm, Hydram Sheet Metalwork.

Hydram has grown 60% in 18-months. The Manufacturing Advisory Service provided the firm with strategic support
Established in 1977, Hydram is one of the largest sheet metalwork manufacturers in Europe.

In 2011, the company removed apprentices from local colleges and training providers to set up its own training department on site in Chilton, Ferryhill – turning to EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry, to support them.

Neil Mawson, Hydram’s training manager says, “We had specific business needs and processes that the local colleges were not teaching.

“The curriculum was fixed and had no flexibility to tailor it to the smaller employers. By training our apprentices in house they gain bespoke skills, delivered by a small training team made up of senior members of staff including a dedicated training manager.”

Hydram was recognised as one of the 50 fastest growing companies in the North East last year with plans to build on increasing turnover and profit with an annual recruitment of apprentices.

Hydram was also nominated for this year’s annual TMMX Awards in the Partnership with Education category.

“We deliver all aspects of our apprentice training using engineers and technicians from the shop floor to teach and train the apprentices,” explains Mawson.

“It gives our learners very bespoke training in the sheet metal industry. We realise to continue expanding we need to develop our workforce.

“The current staff are aging, and apprentices are learning from the wealth of knowledge and information from within the business while they are still working here.”

TMMX Awards Crowds-004
Hydram was nominated in the Partnership with Education category for the annual TMMX Awards 2015.

Hydram delivers up to NVQ Level 3 as an EAL-recognised centre across a range of engineering disciplines.

Mawson says, “EAL was chosen to partner us as it is recognised as a leading provider of engineering programmes. We have an excellent relationship with the External Quality Assessor [Derrick Manley] and have always found him to be approachable and quick to answer any questions.

“The customer service team is excellent for support regarding pathway options, technical help with the online systems and general questions regarding qualifications.”

Established in 1977, Hydram is one of the largest sheet metalwork manufacturers in Europe, supplying precision sheet metal products, components and precision fabrications to a wide range of customers.

It currently employs around 230 staff including 13 apprentices. “We aim to recruit up to ten apprentices each academic year,” explains Mawson.

“In 2015 we had over 390 applicants for the positions we had available.”

The dedicated training facility on site is fully equipped with all the relevant machinery and technology.

Steel Rolls
Hydram supplies precision sheet metal products, components and precision fabrications to a wide range of customers.

Hydram apprentices study on a two-year programme. In the first year they rotate throughout the whole business, gaining an understanding of what the company does and the processes involved, allowing them to make an informed choice regarding their engineering specialism for the second year.

Mawson adds, “We have also provided curriculum support in the form of CAD workbooks and tutorials along with facilitating lessons on engineering topics.

“We attend careers fairs, operate site tours and visits tailored to the current curriculum and we offer work experience placements to schools and colleges.

“We also support primary schools with the primary engineer project, and have offered secondary schools support with F1 in Schools (accredited by EAL) and Green Power Projects.”