Forging an apprenticeship benchmark

Posted on 17 Oct 2011 by The Manufacturer

Sheffield Forgemasters’ bespoke apprenticeship programme has attracted the attention of government officials who are using the company as a template for the development of national delivery frameworks.

An announcement today from heavy engineering firm Sheffield Forgemasters (SFIL) revealed that the plant, close to the heart of Sheffield, had been visited by a delegation of top officials from the Department for business Innovation and Skills.

The visitation was made in response to the recently raised profile of SFIL’s apprenticeship programme. The structure of this scheme was developed in house and led to the company receiving an award for Large Employer of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards earlier this year as well as earning it a place in the Top 100 UK Apprentice Employers list published by The Times and The Sun in July.

The BIS official are part of a team that is working to expand the number of apprenticeships available across the country. At present only 11% of engineering companies in the UK offer apprenticeships despite prominent campaigns led by government, sector skills councils and the National Apprenticeship service to raise awareness f apprenticeships and help smaller employs find the resource to support them.

Dr Graham Honeyman, managing director of SFIL met with the delegation who were also given a factory tour during which current apprentices shared their experiences with the BIS officials.

Following the visit Dr Honeyman said: “At SFIL, we place a high importance on apprenticeships and we were happy to demonstrate how we offer our apprentices a great opportunity to pursue rewarding careers in engineering. We believe a return to traditional apprenticeships and their values is vital to the health of Forgemasters and British industry.”

A spokeswoman for the team from the BIS commented: “Forgemasters is a company that has a long and proud tradition of apprenticeships. The visit gave us invaluable insights into what lessons could be learnt to support new apprenticeship policies.”