A Birmingham manufacturing company has won the support of Chancellor Alistair Darling for its apprentice training scheme.
Mr Darling visited Radshape Sheet Metal last week as part of a tour of the region's manufacturing companies and to promote the government's new skills agenda.
The skills strategy, launched in the West Midlands last month, is aimed at creating tens of thousands of new apprenticeships over the next five years.
Radshape, which specialises in both intricate handcrafted work and highly technological engineering solutions, established the training scheme to stop traditional metalworking skills from dying out.
It has taken on four apprentices in the last three years and plans to take on one or two more each year.
Managing director Keith Chadwick said: "An ageing workforce and the need for flexible and fully trained employees encouraged us to tread the proven path of training in-house.
"The future of Radshape depends on our people and if traditional skills are not maintained and enhanced then we do not have a company."
The four apprentices include Tom Gwynn, aged 19, and Jamie Sproson, 18, who are both in their third year, first-year apprentice Greg Whitehall, also 19, and Richard Massey, 20, a fourth-year apprentice.
As part of his scheme Richard has manufactured an off-road go-kart using the traditional and innovative skills he has acquired during his time at Rad-shape.
During his visit to the plant Mr Darling was introduced to the apprentices and spoke to them about their work. He said he was very impressed by what he had seen and was pleased that firms such as Radshape were taking training seriously.
Radshape, which has a £3.7 million annual turnover and employs 60 people, was started by three people who invested their redundancy money 41 years ago in 1967.
Based in Aston, the manufacturer's clients include Rolls Royce, Bentley, Morgan, Gibbs, British Aerospace, Atlas, Whale Tankers and Prodrive.
Work includes the chassis for the Morgan Aero 8, the innovative land and water driven Gibbs Aquada and the chassis and fuel tank for the new Marcos TSO. The company also works in the aerospace, rail, marine, land-based military, food and pharmaceutical industries.