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Unipres and Gestamp are the perfect team for our Apprentices

Darren Hankey (Principal HCFE) with Maureen Askew (Unipres) far right and David Pearson (Gestamp) near right and Apprentices

More brilliant news for potential Apprentices, and particularly in the Automotive Engineering trades, with two automotive giants coming together to show their dedication to the apprentices and workforce of the future and express the need for the industry to sit up and take note. Unipres and Gestamp Tallent Ltd are working in partnership with us to perfect their training provision and take on a combined total of 19 apprentices this year alone.

The two companies, which specialise in the manufacture of automotive components, have come together to express the need for the automotive industry to plan long-term and look towards the apprenticeship route. Maureen Askew, Senior Controller at the UnipresTraining Academy, said “As a company we’ve employed almost 300 Technical and Technical Support Apprentices since 1989, and apprenticeship positions continue to grow throughout the business with many other departments such as HR, Finance, Qualityand Procurement investing in apprenticeship positions. The industry continues to face a skills shortage and it is essential that businesses, like ourselves, continue to invest in training for new employees and the existing workforce. Unipres has invested over £500,000 in a new training academy with industry specialist equipment to enhance staff’s experiences in learning new skills, but we do realise we can’t deliver everything ourselves and continue to work with specialist providers to give our staff the best opportunities of success.Our biggest investment in skills training is with the Engineering Technicians of the future (a 4-year apprenticeship) and choosing the right provider is essential.  Our recruitment process for our current 1st-year apprentices commenced in January as normal, but the introduction of levy and the new standard – Engineering Technician, made us approach selecting our training provider differently and we decided to go to tender.   This was a major step change for us but a very interesting process which highlighted Hartlepool College being the strongest provider both offering an outstanding delivery model and value for money.”

After putting the work out to tender, although the furthest college away, we were delighted to be awarded the training contract. Gestamp Tallent’s Training Manager David Pearson, has been working with the College for nearly seven years. David, who also started out as an apprentice at the company, said: “It’s so important that the automotive sector comes together to counteract the skills shortage in our industry, ensuring that we can correctly train young people and prepare them for positions within the industry. At Gestamp we have recruited Apprentices annually for more than 40 years and see this as an integral part of our succession planning strategy. With the skills shortages that we are experiencing in the region it is essential that all Companies play a part and recruiting and developing apprentices is key to filling that gap. To be able to develop certain training programmes requires bespoke courses in areas and it is unreasonable to expect Hartlepool College to provide a full bespoke course for a small number of apprentices from one organisation. However, if we partner up with other companies in the sector then these bespoke courses can become achievable and goes some way to combatting the shortage, making sure we have a training provision and readily available workforce.”

The apprenticeship levy which came into force in April (2017) meant that companies with a PAYE bill of £3m or more must pay a levy of 0.5%. Maureen said: “Calculating our levy contribution was challenging to ensure we used the funds effectively, but we feel we have done this successfully and working with innovative providers like Hartlepool College, allows us to invest in apprenticeship positions in other areas of the business.”

Darren Hankey, Principal of Hartlepool College expressed his delight at the two companies coming together within the college to talk about their training challenges. He said: “This is something that must be done more often, one of the biggest mistakes an industry can make is in not coming together to solve an overarching problem. Both Unipres and Gestamp Tallent have shown such a united front in ensuring their company’s talent and workforce is secured for years to come.
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