AESSEAL® manufactures mechanical seals for industries in 104 countries around the world - but its Rotherham HQ is in the heart of the South Yorkshire ‘skills gap’ region.
However, not only has it overcome the recruitment challenge, the company and its apprentices have garnered a clutch of awards in recognition of their success.
AESSEAL® invested over £500,000 in 2018 to double its apprentice intake. It currently has 60 people completing its Manufacturing Apprenticeship Programme and 15 people completing other apprentices such as Business Admin and Marketing. AESSEAL also boasts a 90%+ retention rate of apprentices.
In the past year apprentices Ryan Morris and Nathan Wall have each won an Apprentice of the Year award. The quality of the company’s training programme was acknowledged in national and regional awards, including:
- Princess Royal Training Award for Outstanding Training and Development
- British Engineering Excellence Award (BEEA), Engineering Ambassador
- EEF (manufacturers’ organisation) Future Manufacturing Awards – regional and national awards, Developing Future Talent
- Made in Sheffield Apprenticeship/Training Programme Award
Learning and Development manager Julia Bloomer says: “We take great pride in having created an award-winning apprenticeship scheme which produces award-winning apprentices, particularly in engineering, where the skills gap is keenly felt.
“Our apprentices, and former apprentices who are now in senior roles, visit local schools from Year 6 primary onwards, to dispel myths about engineering as a ‘grease and overalls’ job, which helps us attract the brightest and best to our programme.
“We have flexible training to suit a wide range of abilities and ages, so our net is cast wider. And we guarantee real career progression, so engineering is seen as a profession to aspire to, not just a job, by our apprentices.
“Without a doubt they play a central role in the continuing growth of AESSEAL®.”
AESSEAL® Apprenticeship case studies
Rotherham College Apprentice of the Year, Nathan Wall first stepped through the doors at AESSEAL® as a 13-year-old work experience student in 2015 and immediately made an impact. He produced a 26-page feedback report which was circulated to every department, making its way to the Managing Director and helping to secure him an apprenticeship two years later.
Nathan is now 20 and in the final year of his HNC Level 4 after achieving a double distinction in the AESSEAL® Advanced Apprenticeship, and now works within the Test House of AESSEAL® as a Test Engineer.
AESSEAL® has encouraged his self-motivation and he has acquired additional qualifications and skills ranging from ISO coding to mentoring less confident school students.
He is a trainer-mentor to apprentices on the AESSEAL® Advanced Apprenticeship scheme is an official AESSEAL® Ambassador, visiting schools to show students the opportunities apprenticeships can offer.
Nathan has contributed to improved working practices such as improved Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and proactively auditing 6S (sort - sweep - standardise - sustain - shine - safety) working practices in the workshop to make them more efficient.
He is a regular AESSEAL® representative at the Get up to Speed with STEM (GUTS) event for students and has delivered speeches to industry leaders.
Nathan says: “If you’ve got ambition and motivation then an apprenticeship is the perfect springboard to achieving your goals.
“There’s constant support for your ideas and no end to the learning and personal development opportunities available.
“My ambition is to continue to learn and grow with the business and I’m 100% confident that my apprenticeship will take me there.”
An apprenticeship with AESSEAL® has paved the way to gaining a degree and a dream job as a Designer for Maddy Kearney. It is a far cry from when the 23-year-old left school in Sheffield six years ago with no plans of going to university.
Maddy wanted an income but she didn’t want to end her education - so she decided an apprenticeship offered the best possible way to earn and learn.
She secured a machining apprenticeship on the flagship apprenticeship programme at AESSEAL®, combining working on state-of-the-art machines with a year of study at the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Resource Centre (AMRC).
Maddy then broadened her knowledge in the AESSEAL® Testing department, while working towards an HNC and HND on day release at Rotherham College, before joining the Design team.
“Achieving my HND is by far my biggest achievement to date,” she says.
“The apprenticeship route gave me the opportunity to have experience in different areas of the business. I gained some great hands-on experience, all while still learning, gaining qualifications, and earning a wage.
“I’m now looking forward to completing a BSc in General Engineering in September.”
“The apprenticeship route has been a massive help to my career. Without going down that route it would’ve taken me years to work at a well respected large-scale company like AESSEAL®,” says Alex Wheeler.
Alex, 20, joined the mechanical seals manufacturer, whose global headquarters are in his home town of Rotherham, in 2017.
After 10 months as a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Operator, learning how to operate state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, he moved on to join the Systems Design team in the computer aided design (CAD) office.
Alex now helps to create systems, modify them on the solid edge CAD software and create drawings for them to be built in the workshop. This is all while completing a level 3 diploma at Rotherham College in both the mechanical and electrical aspects of engineering.
When he completes the two-year course in June he will continue onto the HNC mechanical apprenticeship at the University Centre Rotherham (UCR). AESSEAL® has also supported Alex to train as a fully qualified first aider.
He says: “I chose to do an apprenticeship to get hands-on experience working for a company while training at the same time to get the qualifications to become a fully qualified engineer.
“My biggest achievement was being chosen to move up in the company from the workshop to become a systems design apprentice. This has been very fulfilling and enjoyable. It’s broadened my engineering skills and experience. AESSEAL® has supported me in every possible way.”
He adds: “I would tell anyone considering an apprenticeship that it’s the best route they could go down, as there is no other way you could work for an award-winning company with the best training and continuous support along the way.”
AESSEAL® are now recruiting for 2019's mechanical engineering apprentices, further information can be found on the company website apprenticeships pages in the careers section.