Attracting a wide spectrum of school leavers and university graduates with essential skills into apprenticeships is critical for manufacturing firms - not to mention the entire UK industry - to remain agile and competitive.
Key to the success of that project, is a concerted effort by parents, schools and colleges, the UK government and manufacturing firms, in cultivating a wholesale shift in attitude about what a career in manufacturing really entails.
Gone are the days of belching smokestacks and dilapidated mills, and though the challenges presented by the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ are complex and plentiful, many UK firms are rising to the occasion with incremental and even significant changes to their technology and processes, and especially their skills piece.
That’s why case studies from successful school leavers entering the manufacturing sector are so valuable and why The Manufacturer has chosen to champion a handful of inspiring individuals.
In a previous article titled, Case study – a day in the life of a manufacturing apprentice, adi Group trainee Kyle Sterry discussed his Engineering, Fabrication and Welding apprenticeship, his disillusionment with traditional routes in higher education, and a nascent interest in engineering stemming from his father which led to his becoming a mentor for other engineering apprentices coming through the ranks at adi and thoughts about a future in Technical Engineering.
In this third article, 22-year-old Myles Jarman from Telford talks about his Junior Engineer apprenticeship at West Midlands additive manufacturing specialist Ricoh, his two-year Manufacturing Engineering degree at Wolverhampton University, and his role in the day-to-day operations of Ricoh’s 3D printing operations.
Myles Jarman, Junior Engineer, Ricoh
“It has been fantastic for me,” he said. “I had the option of doing this or going to university and I’ve no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision.
“Ricoh is a fantastic company for youngsters looking to go down the apprenticeship route and I would encourage anyone thinking of applying for this opportunity in the future to grasp it.
“The company covers all your training and gives you the chance to learn on the job.
“We have also been involved in external programmes to aid our development, such as an outward-bound experience in Aberdovey in Wales where we had first and third year apprentices at Ricoh join forces for a week and combine our skills to carry out problem-solving exercises.
“I’m now part-way through an additional two-year Manufacturing Engineering degree at Wolverhampton University.
“I’m heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of Ricoh’s 3D printing operation, including machine and process optimisation and evaluation, design and production support.
“I’m really excited to be involved in an industry which has huge potential and is evolving at such a pace.
“The apprenticeship has given me the chance to look to the future with a level of confidence I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Claire Shepherd, learning and development officer at Ricoh, added: “The apprenticeship programme has been hugely successful over the last 30 years and we are extremely proud of what we have achieved in that particular area of the business.
“We have made a substantial investment in young talent and the rewards are there for all to see, with a number of fully qualified team members who have committed their long-term futures to the business.
“You often hear that some companies are struggling to make their Apprenticeship Levy contributions work but that certainly isn’t the case with us.”
Ricoh launched its apprenticeship programme in 1990 and has retained 35 trainees in the business to this day. One such trainee is Additive Manufacturing and Moulding Engineering Manager, Mark Dickin, (above left) who began his apprenticeship in 1999 and now heads up Ricoh’s 3D printing department.
For more information about Ricoh, click here