When the latest cohort of craft apprentices joins Rochdale-based Holroyd Precision Limited in September 2013, the individuals concerned will be continuing a tradition that goes back for almost as long as the 150-plus years that Holroyd has been in the region. “As a company, we are committed to investing in the local workforce,” comments Don Whittle, human resource director. “Indeed, as part of our strategy to maintain the exacting engineering standards that we have become renowned for, every year we look to take on a number of young people; developing their skills through a strong, engineering-based modern apprenticeship program that typically takes up to four years to complete. This is in addition to offering summer placement opportunities to promising engineering degree students.”
Very real career opportunities “Perhaps most importantly,” Whittle continues, “when interviewing for each year’s apprentices, we look very carefully at where future skills gaps may exist in our business. This not only ensures solid succession planning by developing the core skills essential for the future of Holroyd, but also gives each apprentice a very real career opportunity to work towards.”
Apprentices joining Holroyd only a few years ago would have completed their first year of training at the company’s onsite training school. However, today’s apprentices spend twelve months with the teaching partner to Holroyd, Rochdale Training Association. Having worked with Rochdale Training Association for many years, Whittle decided to move Holroyd’s first year apprenticeship learning program off-site to the training provider in 2006. “We decided that it made good sense to pool our resources,” he says. “As a result, Holroyd apprentices continue to receive the highest standards of initial training, Rochdale Training Association benefits from the government funding that our apprentices attract, while other apprentices are now able to see and experience the Holroyd way of doing things.”
Developing key skills from day one During year one, Holroyd apprentices learn a range of key engineering skills at Rochdale Training. This is in addition to attending college for one day each week to study towards the BTEC Ordinary National Certificate. With their first year completed, they then return to Holroyd’s Milnrow headquarters for on-the-job training. Ultimately working towards the NVQ Level 3, they continue with day release, progressing to the BTEC Higher National Certificate award.
Providing first-class progression “Industry-recognized qualifications and a career with plenty of opportunities for progression, however, aren’t necessarily where the story ends,” adds Whittle. “Whenever we feel that an apprentice has the necessary ability and aptitude, we’ll continue to support them through degree-level study – and beyond – if that’s a route they’re happy to pursue. We really do aim to provide our employees with the best opportunities available.”