Turning our minds to growth is something many Business Managers and Directors are beginning to do, with the hope that the world continues on a path to normality. That has been my mindset since the back end of 2020, and integral to this growth is rebuilding resources within the business. Like many in our world, we have had to go through the unpleasant experience of letting people go during the pandemic, but it also presented some amazing surprises as a result.
At the Rugby based factory of Techno Group, we currently have three apprentices on the books. Samuel and Liam are in their second year of a four-year program and are onsite full time, whilst Damian is currently based in Coventry with MGTS (Midland Group Training Services) on a 26-week placement. However, we’ve been grateful to have Damian back onsite during lockdowns so we can get him integrated into the business. Our St Leonards On Sea facility is also active with their apprenticeship program; Harvey is in his second year and is studying at Sussex Coast College.
I remember fondly back to my early years as an apprentice with WMG at the University of Warwick. I had some amazing people around me to build the foundations of my knowledge. I spent time in the Drawing Office, Engineering Workshop and Micro-Engineering, but the main bulk of my time was in the International Manufacturing Centre (IMC) learning about robotics, lasers and injection moulding, while specialising in CNC Machining.
These years were really the catalyst for my career. The exciting things I saw, the challenges we faced, the need to think and find solutions to problems and be innovative.
Further into my time at WMG, I supported projects with urban search and rescue robots, taking teams of students to international competitions to show off the capabilities of our mechanical designs and software. I will never look back on these times with anything but pride and a sense of gratitude to everyone who gave me the chance to be involved.
This is how we hope all of our Techno Group apprentices look back on their experiences in years to come. We hope they reminisce and feel that they were able to grow, develop and explore the business areas to enable them to find their career path, giving them as much pleasure as mine gave me.
As I mentioned already, we had some big decisions to make in 2020, but one of them was non-negotiable: our apprentices would remain in the business no matter what. We had already committed to take on another in August 2020 and this would be honoured, because after all, these young engineers needed to be our future. And wow… are we seeing the fruits of this already?! Both Liam and Sam are shining stars in the factory on a daily basis.
Liam has recently moved sections to learn about sliding head technology, and is now setting and running our Citizen M32 machine while building his knowledge on our range of star sliders as well. Fridays are now a training day for Liam with our Senior Manufacturing Engineer, Martin, and it is brilliant to see these two working together. In what is usually a hectic working week, it is encouraging to see Martin giving Liam that time.
Sam is now heading up the milling section as part of his rotations, and I am delighted to see him grow in confidence more and more each week. Building on his manual milling knowledge he has gained through training at MGTS, he will soon learn to programme long hand simple code, before moving through to CAM programming and more complex machining strategy development. Harvey continues to impress and make great strides in the fixed head turning section, mentored by another longstanding member of the group, Gary.
These young engineers may not realise it yet, but they have helped to realign our management teams when it comes to recruitment. The key narrative now is to ‘grow our own’ talent that fits our business with the skill sets we need by creating more rounded engineers, who can solve problems across all sections of our machine shop. By ‘growing our own’, it means we can introduce the high-level quality requirements early in their development. We can build their understanding of the sectors we supply components to, and in turn, benefit from this depth of knowledge further down the line.
Although, it is not just about knowledge development. Techno Group’s plans for investing in technologies such as automation, 3D printing and wire electrical discharge machining (WEDM) all require a team with the skills to drive them efficiently, and those who have the desire to take on the challenges of integrating them into our factories.
We have experienced first-hand how the younger engineer naturally picks up changes in technology, a machine control interface change, or a new software. It is just natural to them. After all, they get used to their iPad or phone operating system, which both change so frequently. As we introduce more digital technologies and IOT to our factories, the apprentices have a head start on most of us with an understanding of integrating devices, connecting networks of systems and storing data in the cloud. It is just a way of life, and it is going to be vital to us to keep moving forward with technology.
Furthermore, the development of these engineers drives the mindset of our business in a different way. What is the point in developing these talented young engineers of the future if they are just going to leave you in years to come for more attractive roles, progressions and salaries? That is the bigger challenge and one which helps us continue our drive forwards.
We don’t want to lose these engineers in a few years’ time; we want them to see Techno Group as a business full of opportunity – one that can challenge them to continue to develop and one that will look after them in their long and exciting careers. This pushes the Management and Directors of the Group to be forward thinking, to consider the place of work, the benefits to staff, the health and wellbeing aspects and how we can provide careers of the future, not just jobs.
So, with rebuilding for growth and expanding our own now at the forefront of our vision, we are delighted to continue our investment in apprenticeships during 2021. Techno Group’s Rugby factory has worked with the AMTC (Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre), in partnership with Lloyds Bank, to recruit another young engineer who will formerly join the business in April this year. This time, for an apprenticeship focusing on quality and inspection, with the pathway to develop our next generation of Inspectors and Quality Managers.
Across the business, we aim to continue the apprenticeship program by routinely recruiting each year, considering all areas of our businesses from manufacturing to administration. I write this post with the confidence that any young person joining our businesses will have a fantastic opportunity to forge their career, but also that the future of our businesses will go from strength to strength because of them.
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