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'Fantastic' York College partnership with Severfield helping bridge UK skills gap in manufacturing

Severfield has praised its “fantastic” apprenticeship partnership with York College for helping to address a manufacturing skills shortage in the UK.

The country’s leading structural steel experts currently have 12 of our apprentices on their books – seven who started this academic year and five from 2022 – with plans to up their intake further in 2024.

Of that dozen, ten are Level 3 Metal Fabricator apprentices, and two are Level 3 Maintenance and Operations Engineering Technician apprentices.

Both apprenticeships will take four years to complete, including end-point assessments, and others could be added in future years as Severfield expands and adapts to an ever-changing world.

All the current apprentices are benefitting from the expertise of a company that has worked on projects such as The Shard in London, Tottenham Hotspur’s new football stadium, and the retractable roof on Wimbledon’s No 1 tennis court.

With offices and work sites in Nether Poppleton, Thirsk, Malton, and Bridlington, but also further afield in Bolton and Cardiff and overseas in Northern Ireland, the Netherlands and India, there is also an abundance of career opportunities in an industry where skills gaps are prevalent.

On a visit to the college ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, Severfield Early Careers Advisor Abel Neish, pictured above with Early Careers Manager Jill Jenkins and the apprentices, said: "We have worked with York College for many years, so we have former apprentices who are now part of our workforce, and we see that relationship continuing to grow in the foreseeable future.

“It’s fantastic that the students can see that what they learn in College on a Monday is clearly implemented when they are in the workplace, whether that’s with their mentor on site or in our on-site Welding School where they can hone their skills during any free time they have.

“The benefits of an apprenticeship are endless. The apprentices gain the experience of learning from skilled people who have worked in the industry for many years.

“Aside from progressing with their technical skills, watching our apprentices develop as individuals and improving their softer skills is great to see as well.”

Severfield’s commitment to the latter has been seen throughout the first six months of the latest cohort of apprentices’ time with the company, starting from the very first week with a series of fun team-building exercises.

“The first thing we do with the apprentices is give them an Induction Week which is an excellent opportunity for all our new starters to learn about our business structure and approach to Health & Safety, with a few entertaining activities mixed in. The event is about creating a positive start for each of our apprentices at the start of their career, from which they can take knowledge, information, and memories to strengthen those first steps into our business,” Abel explained.

“We’ve been really impressed with the apprentices’ development during the six months since they started. It’s been absolutely fantastic.”

Abel also believes the apprentices are being equipped with key workplace skills that will benefit them regardless of where their vocational pathway may lead them in future years.

“The apprentices gain a great awareness of things like health and safety on site, which is important wherever they go on to work during their careers,” he pointed out.

“The opportunities are there for these apprentices to progress with their careers, and Early Careers are here to support them regardless of what pathway they want to follow in the future.”

On his initial interest in a Metal Fabricator apprenticeship and the skills he has learned during the past six months, first-year apprentice Oscar Wileman said: “I wanted to follow a practical way of learning rather than being completely classroom based, and I went to an Engineering School before, so I learned about marking out and all the machinery, and this apprenticeship with Severfield really appealed to me.

“We have somebody assessing and supervising us and a mentor who teaches us and oversees what we are doing, but we do get to work fairly independently, and I’ve been able to develop my skills in welding, grinding, burning and marking out to become fluent in what most of the other platers do.”

To learn more about our Level 3 Metal Fabricator Apprenticeship, please click here

For more information on our Level 3 Maintenance and Operations Engineering Technician Apprenticeship please click here

For a list of our current apprenticeship vacancies, please click here

For more general information on apprenticeships, please click here

To learn more about Severfield, please click here