Abbey Engineering is based on Knowsley Industrial Park. Employing 73 people, the firm works across many industries including automotive, rail and pharmaceutical. Services are provided to major clients ranging from Cammel Laird to Network Rail, meaning that for the right individuals the company can offer great career progression.
Abbey Engineering has been recruiting apprentices for more than five years but this has recently been expanded across all eight areas of their business. During the last 18 months Pat Milligan, HR Manager, has been championing the futures of young people through the proactive recruitment of Apprenticeships.
Following an approach from GMLPF member, Mode, two successful apprentices have been working alongside the finance, sales and purchasing teams.
Pat explains the formula for success: ‘Mode really grasped our business from day one. They were so professional in the way they approached me that I wanted to hear more about what they had to say. I know that if the apprentices lived up to Mode’s expectations, they’d meet ours too, and would be a real winner for our business.
At present we have two employees that joined us as apprentices via Mode. Both having successfully completed their apprenticeship and been awarded an NVQ Level 2. It’s very humbling to see young people with such professionalism and enthusiasm rise to the challenge of making an impact on the bottom line at Abbey. But that is exactly what they have done.
Chloe, aged 22, now has practical experience of both our finance and purchasing departments and has worked hard to achieve her intermediate apprenticeship in Business Administration. Her work ethic and willingness to take on responsibility has earned her a secure full time job with us. Her approach has been exemplary, with her even writing a proposal regarding why she is an asset to us and should be kept on.
Liam, aged 18 has done nothing short of an amazing job in our sales team. With Mode’s guidance he has, in a very short space of time, been awarded his own customer accounts to look after on a day-to-day basis, making sure client needs are met, generating quotes and following up on enquiries to bring new business in. That’s a big achievement for somebody so young.’ At the time or writing, Liam is just finalising his intermediate apprenticeship in Customer Service.
Steps to Success
Best results are achieved when the student, employer and training provider work together collaboratively. This happens in many ways between Mode and Abbey and hinges on a good flow of information.
At the exploratory stage, Mode was able to demonstrate that they grasped the company ethic and the calibre of apprentice that was required. Pat takes a strong view that the recruitment process is only the first step to success. She adds: ‘Each time the assessor visits I review the Apprentice’s portfolio. This means that the apprentices are always on track and the business needs are being met. And even before that we have a buddy programme to mentor young people in their first weeks and months at the company.’
Getting involved with Apprenticeships has enhanced the robustness of the workforce and succession planning at Abbey Engineering. It also helps fulfil the company’s corporate social responsibility goals which manifest as employing local people and flying the flag for young talent.
Pat admits that apprentices and employers are not always seen in such a positive light: ‘Our apprentices are taken on with a proper wage to acknowledge their position in the workforce. I appreciate that this might not always be possible with smaller companies, but with Mode, apprentices really can add value to a business in a short space of time. If a young person can see an opportunity for progression, they are more likely to put the effort in to making a difference. Mode coach the youngsters on how to be professional and proactive. To me they are a benchmark training provider.’
Chris Jones, Managing Director at Abbey Engineering adds: ‘The Apprentices in our business are making a positive impact. We’re constantly looking for ways to bring in and develop young people as they form a large part of our future – and us theirs I hope – as talent retention is a priority in such a competitive market.’
Since the first Mode apprentices began at Abbey Engineering, the company has embarked on a further partnership with the training provider. The training provided by Mode has extended into skilling up the wider workforce in leadership, management approaches, telephone technique and customer service. There are currently 15 employees across Abbey’s business studying for the Institute of Leadership and Management’s apprenticeship in team leading.