As manufacturers position themselves for economic recovery, attention is on the second annual Apprenticeship Week which ends tomorrow. Industrial Editor John Cranage talks to Jaguar Land Rover manufacturing apprentice Adam Walker.
At the age of 19, Adam Walker is set to play a key role in the future of the West Midlands’ automotive industry.
Along with others on the Jaguar Land Rover apprenticeship scheme, he is learning skills that are going to be crucial as the sector adapts to the fast-changing world in which new technologies and value added manufacturing will be the key to success.
Adam, a former pupil of Tudor Grange School in Solihull, where he enjoyed science, joined the JLR scheme in 2006 after spending time with the Small Heath Engineering Trust when he sampled aerospace and marine engineering.
“I heard about the scheme through someone at JLR and decided to join,” he said.
“I decided to go for automotive engineering because I found it really interesting and really varied.”
Adam is currently sampling life in the Land Rover paint shop at Lode Lane but will work in a various areas of the business before he completes his apprenticeship in 2010.
JLR, which, along with virtually every other carmaker in the world, is currently enduring a savage downturn in business, is maintaining its commitment to develop the skilled designers, technicians and manufacturing specialists it will need in the future.
Last month it officially opened a state-of-the-art Technical Academy in Warwick where it trains its own apprentices and those signed up by Jaguar and Land Rover dealers.
Dr Adrian Birch, who runs the Academy, says he believes it is the best equipped automotive training facility of its type.
Adam Walker will, however, face a dilemma when the time comes to decide on a permanent placement with the company.
“I am getting to move around different departments and in every one I go to I find something that interests me,” he said.
“It gives you more scope when you come to the end of your apprenticeship but I haven’t yet decided which area I want to go into eventually.
“It is very difficult. Every time I move I find something that interests me.”
As well as learning his trade, Adam is also heavily involved in helping recruit the next generation of apprentices.
Part of his time is spent going into local schools talking to years ten and 11 pupils about apprenticeships and the prospects they offer. He is due to return to his own old school, Tudor Grange, next month.
“From the feedback I am getting, the children think apprenticeships are really great,” he said.
Adam relishes the prospect of working in future with apprentices he helped to recruit.
In support for Apprenticeship Week, the Institute of the Motor Industry says apprenticeships are a “high quality route to future career success for ambitious individuals.”
It goes on to say: “In the current economic circumstances, it is more important than ever to ensure that employees have the skills they need to deliver success which is why businesses should continue to train.
“Training will help them through the current storm whilst also readying them for when the storm passes.”