In 2011 HepcoMotion engaged its highest number of apprentices since 1998. It is expected that the figure will be matched in 2012 and the new intake will make provision for the development of young engineering talent for more academically demanding roles within the company.
This is a clear indication that HepcoMotion is investing in workforce skills as well as capital purchases to underpin the impressive business growth it recorded at the end of 2011. Indeed, 2011 was the company's best ever trading year in its 43 year history - and the trend continues.
An urgent need for high-calibre talent within its R&D department has prompted HepcoMotion to engage two higher apprentices and four advanced apprentices. Both levels combine academic study with practical training in the workplace but, while the advanced apprentices typically study for a BTEC National Diploma, the higher apprentices start at Foundation Degree level.
Bob Gregory, HepcoMotion's Training Manager, comments: "Studying engineering to degree level within the context of an apprenticeship produces a uniquely capable individual that cannot be easily found by other means.
"At all apprentice levels we seek those with good problem-solving skills and enthusiasm for all things mechanical. With our higher apprentices we look for these attributes to be more self-evident and clearly defined."
Clearly HepcoMotion's method of selection has proved successful because, in the last four years, all but one of its newly qualified apprentices has remained with the company. Indeed, ex-apprentices have taken positions in technical sales, quality control and project engineering.
As in previous years, HepcoMotion will work in partnership with Brunel and Gordano Training, which now operates under the auspices of City of Bristol College. Although the higher apprenticeship scheme will satisfy HepcoMotion's immediate need for higher-calibre apprentices, it is hoped that those on the advanced scheme will ultimately take the opportunity to extend their studies on completion of their initial qualification.
Gregory concludes: "Developing our own graduates in this way has certainly proved extremely successful in the past. We have sponsored advanced apprentices through HNC, HND, Foundation Degree and Honours Degree. It all depends on the aspirations and abilities of the individual, but the key benefit for HepcoMotion is that the apprentice matures within the culture of our company."