Fuelwood Investing In New Apprentices
Friday January 10, 2014 at 3:53pm
Increasing global demand for Fuelwood's kindling and firewood machines is driving the need for more skilled engineers at Fuelwood’s factory in Warwickshire. “With a strong order book for our own Kindlet and Splitta ranges we felt the timing was right to expand our manufacturing apprenticeship programme” says Samantha Eales, General Manager.
Taking on engineering apprentices is a big investment; they are extensively trained off site for a year before joining the workforce to make sure they have all the basic skills well embedded. So why go down the apprentice route rather than just recruiting engineers from the market? Samantha summed it up nicely “If businesses like Fuelwood don’t invest in our young people there will be no pool of engineering talent for any of us to draw from in the future.” With the overall growth in the manufacturing sector there is now a shortfall in the number of skilled engineers available to meet demand.
Located in the heart of the manufacturing West Midlands, Fuelwood has to compete with some of the world’s very best manufacturing companies when attracting new engineers, even to find the best apprentices. As a niche market, forestry equipment, kindling and firewood machines like Fuelwood’s may not even be on many engineers radar and perhaps a less obvious choice than say the motor industry for an aspiring engineer. “Thankfully not everybody wants to be just one of the faceless hundreds buried inside a huge car factory. At Fuelwood it’s a unique product into which our engineers have design and development input. It’s a family culture and everyone here is unique and important. With flexible and varied work and being based right here in the heart of the Warwickshire countryside with trees and fresh air, we have many plus points” says Samantha.
Making such a big cash and time investment in an apprentice is a calculated risk, so finding the right recruit and the right training partner was crucial. Fuelwood opted to work with training organisation Midland Group Training Services in Coventry. MGTS specialise in engineering training and apprenticeships and work with many of the UK’s leading engineering companies. “We are so lucky to have MGTS close by, they are one of the very best engineering training companies in the UK, so we knew would be in safe hands” says Samantha.
Following a rigorous recruitment and selection process Fuelwood now have their first new apprentice on board, Dan Alexander. Dan is twenty one so a mature apprentice. He has five years previous work experience including as a motorcycle mechanic trained by Suzuki. His loves of hands on engineering made him stand out as an ideal candidate, as did his desire to want to better his qualifications and give himself good career prospects. So what made Dan choose Fuelwood? “I was shown around the factory and I instantly thought I could see myself working there. I then did a week’s work experience which was good for me to see how Fuelwood work and for them to see how I work. This paid off as they offered me an apprenticeship. It's a good feeling knowing a company has faith in you to do well enough to put you through quite expensive training” says Dan. Not one to sit on his laurels, Dan is very clear about his future “I believe the course is going great, I'm learning a lot and getting through the workload with a good pace. I would also like to take my education further and do a HNC and a Degree at some point in the future.” So there’s no shortage of ambition with Dan.
In concluding her thoughts on apprentices Samantha said “Fuelwood is an innovative and forward looking business. We don’t sit waiting for the world to come to us. We need not only good engineers but innovative thoughtful people who think and act like we do, moulding young talent is the logical solution to achieving that.” She makes a compelling case!
Picture shows Dan Alexander Fuelwood's New Apprentice
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