Business leader plans Thetford apprentice school

Published: 25 May 2012


Richard Bridgman from Warren Services says we neeed more apprentices to plug skills gap – about 20 percent of his staff are apprentices and he wants and apprentice school in thetford

A business leader in Thetford has told of his hopes ambition to start up an apprenticeship school to raise the skills level.

Richard Bridgman, chairman of Warren Services said more apprenticeships are needed to counter ‘an unbelievable lack of skills’ in the UK.

Mr Bridgman said that nearly a fifth of his 96 strong workforce have been or are currently on apprenticeships, with some holding key positions at the firm.

“Here we are in the middle of a recession and we have a skills shortage. I am looking for machinists, wielders and fabricators but we can’t find them. We just haven’t got the skilled people out there,” he said.

The family business started in Feltwell back in 1989. Over the years it has grown and relocated into Thetford. It has been running apprenticeship now for 15 years and has a £6.5 million turnover.

Mr Bridgman now wants to set up an apprenticeship school to work with Thetford Academy to raise the skills level.

“I think we are on the fresh hold of something quite exciting,” he said.

Mr Bridgman is also East of England chairman Semta (the sector skills council for science engineering and manufacturing technologies).

As part of that role, he is advising Norfolk County Council which is currently looking to spend up to £3.5 million, funding apprenticeship places for 400 people.

He said 87 per cent of manufacturing companies in UK do not employ apprenticeships and has accused the Government of not doing enough for small businesses.


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