Alloy Heat Treatment
Grazebrook Industrial Park,
+44 (0)1384 456777
Apprenticeship schemes don’t just grow a successful business; they help the wider economy and build the leaders of tomorrow, as Midlands firm Alloy Heat Treatment is illustrating.
Today, the popularity of apprenticeship schemes is growing. After all, the National Apprenticeship Service demand for such subsidised on-the-job training placements increased by 32 per cent compared to the same time last year.
Alloy Heat Treatment (AHT) is constantly innovating and delivering new business models, plus the people to make them happen. As part of this, the firm pinpointed a skills gap within the organisation, due to the bespoke nature of sub-contracted heat treatment of aluminium alloys.
Such work demands the highest calibre of craftsmen, tough to source via traditional routes, making apprenticeship a logical way forward. “The selection process was performed by advertising in the local press and carrying out interviews, before selecting appropriate academic support from local colleges for each of the successful candidates.” explains Steve Roberts, Quality Manager, AHT.
“On the job training is vital to UK businesses but, to work well, apprenticeships schemes need to run with an academic discipline supporting them.”
Dudley College and Halesowen College provided academic input, delivering all but one of AHT’s apprentices. “Three apprentices work in the Quality Department carrying out general metallurgical, pyrometry and inspection duties. There has been an intake of one apprentice each of the last three years there.” says Roberts.
Another apprentice works in the Engineering Department on maintenance duties, with others in accounts and reception. “AHT are currently in the process of investing in the facilities used for serving the aircraft industries. These facilities require the input of the quality department, where three of the apprentices are working.
“AHT’s commitment to their apprenticeship programme demonstrates the long term vision for the longevity and the future success of the business.” Roberts reveals.
Industry estimates suggest 80% of the global heat treatment market is captive; whereby organisations carry out bespoke heat treatment in house, leaving a 20% share for AHT to specialise in the light alloy industries.
The aluminium industry is responsible for new body shells for high-speed trains, trams, and buses. Energy saving, lightweighting and design flexibility are paramount criteria. Up to 50% weight reduction and similar ground-breaking solutions result from innovative production methods, like new casting technologies.
Hence, AHT predicts a bright business future, necessitating investment in apprentices as tomorrow’s leaders. “There are some excellent young people leaving school and college but many of them have no real idea of what sort of career they want to follow.” comments Adrian Church, Managing Director Alloy Heat Treatment.
“Over many years industry has been losing skilled technologists and engineers and not replacing them with newly qualified people. Our aim is to motivate a new generation of young people within our small company to train and gain formal qualifications to ensure the long term survival of the business.
“We are trying to find academically bright young people who may not go to university but nonetheless want to continue their studies. So far we have been delighted with the people under training.” Church concludes.
Such foresight, positivity and localism underpins much of the UK’s high calibre manufacturing work. Approaches like these will ensure a healthy tomorrow for both aluminium and apprentices in the Midlands.