Bosses go back to the floor for National Apprenticeship Week

To mark National Apprenticeship Week 2014, the AMRC Training Centre invited senior managers from local manufacturing employers – all of whom currently have apprentices at the Training Centre – to go back to the floor and spend a day as an apprentice.

The bosses were given an apprentice to look after them, and a simple machining or welding task to complete under close supervision. For many, it was a return to the earliest days of their own careers – and a chance to see how apprentice training has changed over the past decades. 

A senior engineer from a local business with an apprentice at the University of Sheffield AMRCParticipants included Mick Hood, HR director, Tata Steel; Clive Porter, managing director, Darron SBO; Mark Webber, managing director, Tinsley Bridge; David O'Hara, finance director, MTL Group; Vince Middleton, chair, Newburgh Engineering; James Selka, production and HR director, AES Seal; Craig McKay, general manager and joint MD, Evenort; Charles Robinson, managing director, Helix Tools; and Alison Bettac, director of training, AMRC Training Centre.

"It's a walk down memory lane for me – it takes me back 34 years to when I started my apprenticeship," said Mick Hood of Tata Steel. "It gives me a real insight into modern training, which is important because we have our own people here. It's good for someone who's been away from this environment, but is responsible for putting people through it, to understand what they're going through."

James Selka of AES Seal, who also started his own career as an apprentice, was also impressed with the AMRC Training Centre Facilities. "This is streets ahead of what we had," he said. "Everyone's engaged, and they seem much more mature than we were. It's really well run and the people here want to learn, and they are being stretched."

Vince Middleton of Newburgh Engineering found himself being supervised by a younger relative, Torston Middleton, who is serving his apprenticeship with the family firm.

"I didn't do an apprenticeship, but I've been around engineering long enough to know what it's about," Vince said. "I'm quite impressed that I've made something relatively quickly. The quality of the kit and everything in here is brilliant. It beats anything that anyone else has as a facility. I've not seen anywhere in 30 years that's as well run and which suits our needs so well."

Torston Middleton also found the experience valuable. "It gives Vince an opportunity to know what goes on here and understand what skills I've learned," he said. "And his standard of work is very impressive."

For some of the bosses who didn't have a practical engineering background, the day proved an eye-opener.

"I'm a chartered accountant, but I've found that I am a born welder. It's taken me 53 years to find my true vocation," said David O'Hara of MTL Group. "It's a privilege for MTL to have our apprentices here at the AMRC. They will start their working life with a first-class education which will carry them through to great things at MTL."

The temporary apprentices also took the online competence test that all would-be AMRC apprentices have to pass before they are offered a place – most were pleased to find that they did make the grade.

Alison Bettac said that the day showed everyone the value of the new Training Centre. "I've learned what high standards our apprentices have within the centre – we weren't here to do a slapdash job, and if we did we were picked up on it," she said. "We all found that our apprentices are far in advance of what we thought they were going to be. The support we've had from them was of a very high standard. They've given everyone a real feel for the ethos and philosophy of the centre."

Additional information

AMRC Training Centre
The University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre is supported by the Regional Growth Fund and European Regional Development Fund, and provides training in the practical and academic skills that manufacturing companies need to compete globally. As well as apprenticeships, the cutting-edge programme links with both Sheffield universities, giving apprentices the opportunity to continue their higher-level education from degree level work through to doctorate and MBA level.
The AMRC Training Centre also provides a range of courses for continuing professional development, providing a full range of training support from apprenticeships right through to bespoke training for senior executives in manufacturing.
For more information, see: 

The University of Sheffield AMRC
The University of Sheffield AMRC is a world-leading cluster of industry-focused manufacturing research and development, training and business support. It includes two core research centres – the original Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing (launched 2001), and the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (launched 2009), both part of the government-backed High Value Manufacturing Catapult – plus Castings Technology International (CTI), the National Metals Technology Centre (Namtec), the AMRC Knowledge Transfer Centre and other supporting facilities, and the new AMRC Training Centre.

The University of Sheffield
With almost 25,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities. A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in. In 2011 it was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life. Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields. Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline and Siemens, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Tim Chapman
AMRC Communications Manager
07872 419671