High level apprentice scheme launched to groom super-salesmen

Posted on 12 Feb 2013

Two manufacturing organisations have launched a Commercial Engineering Apprenticeship that will teach business skills, languages and foreign culture alongside traditional engineering disciplines.

A new type of higher level apprenticeship which aims to answer manufacturers’ needs for technically trained salesmen and managers has been introduced.

The new high level apprenticeship will include leadership CPD (continual professional development) and training in foreign culture and languages.


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The Manufacturer is holding an event titled ‘Future Factory: Driving Skills Development in the Workforce’ on February 26 in London.

The Manufacturing Technologies Association and the University of Sheffield AMRC with Boeing on Friday launched the new Commercial Engineering Apprenticeship, a high level training course that can potentially take a student from 16 years old through to a PhD equivalent qualification.

Devised by the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s Training Centre, led by Alison Bettac, and the MTA, the new apprenticeship is built on established pathways to a higher level apprentice level but with new pathways to enhance the candidate’s professional development.

These include technical CPD and leadership CPD streams. “These were developed with companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Rolls-Royce in mind,” said director of training Alison Bettac. “There is a technical need for leadership in industry as an integral part of professional training.”

Graham Dewhurst, director-general of the MTA, which represents several hundred precision engineering and technology companies in Britain, said “There is a member need in our association for more suitable, modern skills. We need high trained salespeople, because now manufacturing is about customer solutions.

“Manufacturing is more about customer support and less about the products,” he said, explaining the changing needs of modern manufacturing companies, who hitherto might need to buy a machine tool and now need specialist advice on optimising tools, different technologies and working with partners.

The new apprenticeship includes features like visits to world class factories, teacher CPD for those who wish to teach, and better engagement with the school curriculum. In September, a new University Technical College will open in Sheffield.

“The AMRC Training Centre and this apprenticeship plans to link with the school curriculum so that school children think about careers in engineering and they’re at the forefront of their minds,” said Miss Bettac.

Language elements and culture of countries their future employers are likely to deal with will be taight from Year One, as well as international business ethics.

But it will be built around robust, broad-based engineering training via a PEO Level II pathway, which include mandatory units covering health and safety, manufacturing technologies and DSUM, a means of testing productivity skills.

Mark Ridgway, newly appointed president of the MTA, acknowledged the importance of government in doing these projects. “We now have six-monthly meetings with [business secretary] Vince Cable. This is also evidenced by developments at the AMRC, which is part funded by the Catapult through the Technology Strategy Board