By Ian Dipple Friday 15 March 2013 Updated: 15/03 08:16
A REDDITCH firm has backed apprenticeships as the way to fill the borough and the country’s skills gap.
Peterson Spring takes on about two apprentices annually but this year is planning to recruit three as a result of growing demand for their products.
Richard Bray, operations director at the Hewell Road firm, said in order for the business to remain competitive it was vital young people were being trained to replace older skilled workers as they retire. The youngest experienced setter they currently employ is in his 40s.
“To be competitive we have to source materials at the right price and everything else but we also have to have the skills and they aren’t coming through,” he said.
“If we don’t do something we’ll end up in an endless spiral of all of us competing for a dwindling number of experienced workers and wages will go up, etc. This allows us to take a young person, integrate them into our systems and bring them through.”
Brockhill resident Christopher Boughey is the firm’s current success story. He is in the second year of his apprenticeship and works on the job while training at Worcester College of Technology.
The 20-year-old said after leaving school he tried training as an electrician which did not work out but it was while doing hand pressing work at another spring manufacturer in Lakeside he became attracted to the idea of a career in the industry and wanted to increase his skills.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I left school. This is something I’m interested in and enjoy doing and it’s hard to find a job out there,” he said.
“They’ve told me they want me to stay on at the end of this so if I keep going I’ll be earning a good wage so doing an apprenticeship has really worked out for me. You can’t earn a good wage if you aren’t skilled at the job so you’ve got to earn it at the end of the day.”
Ron Hill has worked in the industry for over 50 years and has stayed on at the firm despite reaching retirement age almost two years ago and has been helping to train Christopher.
The compression setter said: “There’s been a lack of training in this country for the last 20 to 30 years. I don’t mind teaching people, I’ve helped a few on in my time, and I do want to see young kids given a chance and at the moment they are not. This (apprenticeships) is the best thing to come out for years.”
Redditch MP Karen Lumley visited the factory last Friday (March 8) to mark the creation of half a million apprenticeships nationwide ahead of National Apprenticeship Week which ends today (March 15).
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