William Hare: Bridging the engineering skills gap with the next generation

Ceri Travers, Organisational Development & Early Careers ManagerWilliam Hare in Bury, Greater Manchester. 

William Hare is a global leader in engineered solutions. It is crucial for us to attract and retain young talent as 48% of our highly skilled workforce in steel production are currently over the age of 50. It can take 4-8 years to train a young person to the skill level that we need too, and there is already a national skills shortage of engineers and quantity surveyors. Therefore, rather than ‘battle’ for graduates every year, we looked at solutions to develop our own talent directly from school and college.

This led to us developing award-winning apprenticeship programmes that are attracting and retaining young talent. The Board at William Hare are not only committed to this solution, but very enthusiastic and positive about it. Our mantra when we set out to do this was ‘if our apprenticeship programmes are good enough for my child, then they are good enough for other people’s children.’  

I have my child (now a teenager) at the heart of everything I do. It is incredibly important that when we offer an opportunity to a young person that we give them the time, energy, support and skills to succeed in life. They are not there to ‘sweep up’; they are there to develop, learn and become a valuable member of our team and add value to the organisation. 

All of our apprenticeship programmes offer permanent roles; everyone has a mentor and a learning plan, most programmes offer progression and there is a salary scale to enable people to increase their salary every year as they achieve. We meet with our colleges/universities and training providers on a regular basis and work in partnership with them, which gives us assurances around quality. We add value to our programmes by reviewing them with our apprentices each year and running an ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award. 

I talk to lots of people in SME’s, who do not understand the benefits of taking on an apprentice and have no idea how to develop a great programme. I spend a lot of my time educating companies and advising on how to run a successful programme and delivering the right culture and values to do this. This is where I feel the government could be far more proactive. There needs to be more help, support and practical advice to help all organisations develop successful apprenticeship programmes for young people. 

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