Firm urges focus on apprenticeships

8:30am Saturday 2nd June 2012 in News By David Knights

Keighley Laboratories managing director Debbie MellorKeighley Laboratories managing director Debbie Mellor

A Keighley company is encouraging young people to consider alternatives to university.

Keighley Laboratories, in South Street, says it wants to highlight the rewards available to people who opt for vocational training.

The heat treatment and metallurgical testing business – which has enjoyed an excellent start to 2012 and is scheduled to start work on a factory extension this summer – says it is keen to recruit and train skilled workers, as many of its qualified staff will approach retirement age over the next decade.

It adds that two of its future prospects are enrolled on the new Btec diploma in manufacturing engineering at Bradford College.

Managing director Debbie Mellor said she was concerned young people and their families believed university was the only career path open to them.

She emphasised that vocational training such as engineering apprenticeships result in qualifications, involve hands-on learning, and lead to real jobs and established career prospects.

She said: “According to a recent report, an estimated 55 per cent of this year’s university graduates will fail to land a job that requires a degree, becoming either under-employed or unemployed. With increased course fees and students running up debts of up to £27,000, many will be wondering whether it’s worthwhile going to university.

“With an apprenticeship or a Btec diploma course, they would learn while they earn and have the opportunity to study for a foundation degree or higher qualification as their career progresses.

“Apprenticeships have not been affected by budget cuts – the Government has pledged to create 75,000 new places over the next three years.”

She expressed her support for the Btec level 3 diploma in manufacturing engineering, which now includes modules on the structure and properties of metals, mechanical and thermal treatment, and metallurgical techniques.

Keighley Laboratories has enrolled two of its trainees on the two-year programme, and expects to continue funding another two people each year.

Ms Mellor said she was worried that schools were pushing their students towards university education because they were not aware of vocational training opportunities.

She said she was dismayed by the Government’s decision to downgrade the diploma in engineering from its current value of five GCSEs to just one, arguing this undermined the industry.

“Work-based training is a viable option for young people to consider,” she said. “Getting into employment earlier, not running up student debts, and earning proper money means young apprentices definitely have an edge.”

Paul Champion

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Twitter: @blogapprentice
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