Established industry leader in digital finishing equipment, AB Graphic International, is passionate about inspiring the next generation of future engineers. Due to its geographical location the number of practical training opportunities available to students in this region is extremely limited.
To solve the skills gap the surrounding area is suffering from, AB Graphic has partnered with drive and controls specialist Bosch Rexroth to ensure local aspiring engineers get the best start.
Based in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, AB Graphic employ a number of 5 apprentices every year to help protect and bolster its future workforce. The difficulty however lies in finding the right candidates at apprentice level suitably trained in this field.
A target set by the government is to engage up to 3 million apprentices by 2020 in the UK and although the company has an apprenticeship scheme in place, it soon realised engagement and hands-on experience from an early stage is vital.
“We’re fully aware that the engineering and manufacturing sector has a large part to play in achieving the government target but it’s more deep-rooted than that,” says Phil Robson, Operations Manager at AB Graphic. “Introducing the opportunities and prospects a career in engineering can bring from a young age has become a number one priority for us.
“To tackle this, we established a collaboration with selected educational institutions in the Yorkshire area, also known as the HEAD partnership which includes Headlands School, The East Riding College, Derwent Training Association (DTA) and industry partners Bosch Rexroth. Aimed at encouraging the next generation to ‘head’ into engineering, our initiative will include a mix of academic and practical skills based learning”.
To ensure apprentices have the necessary workplace ready skills and experience, the consortium is making use of industry grade training from partners like Bosch Rexroth’s Drives and Controls Academy.
Mark Thomas, Key Account & National Systems Sales at Bosch Rexroth explains: “As part of our ongoing commitment to support the next generation we will supply AB Graphic with the latest training aids. The equipment will be assembled into an ergonomic bench and suitably set up to demonstrate and teach the principles of motion control, PLC programming and servo drive set-up, enabling students to understand modern machine control systems.
“Not only will the equipment be available for all students taking a related course, but also for training existing AB Graphic employees,” comments Mark.
“The goal of HEAD is to offer all levels of course up to degree level, according to age and ability, and the Industry 4.0 compliant training rig will do just that. Built using genuine industry leading components means students and lecturers can recreate and model real-world applications.”
Components supplied will help make students more familiar with Bosch Rexroth control products leading to a smoother entry into the industry, Phil says: “The equipment that has been supplied to us is perfectly tailored to support students and teachers at all qualification stages.”
Primarily aimed at pupils in Years 10 and 11, aspiring to an engineering career, Headlands School will manage this part of the project, offering students a GCSE option which will eventually lead to a Level 2 qualification. To continue their journey, students can then move onto a Level 3 and Higher Level 4 (HNC/D) qualification in engineering or apprenticeship at East Riding College or DTA.
There’s a wealth of manufacturing and engineering businesses in the region, having skills ready apprentices is only going to encourage more of these types of companies to invest in the North-East.
Phil continues: “This partnership is a great opportunity for practical young people in Yorkshire and it doesn’t have to stop there. While we may attract potential partners in the future, we suggest manufacturers across the UK take note of our framework and build their own unique initiative to improve engagement.”
Mark adds: “It’s refreshing to be part of something so innovative especially as the skills gap is high on the agenda for many manufacturing companies at this moment in time. To play our part in helping students get an introduction into engineering from an early age is something we’re really proud of and we look forward to seeing more initiatives like this pop up across the UK.”
AB Graphic will provide ongoing support through technical advice and guidance to the learning partners and also offer work experience where possible. Bosch Rexroth will continue to support these efforts moving forward. To learn more about HEAD, please click here:
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