One of the region’s largest manufacturers has stressed the importance of investing in training despite the tough economic conditions.
Stewart Towe CBE, managing director of Hadley Industries, said links with Chambers of Commerce, to access information on training provision for apprenticeships and staff development, are vital.
The Smethwick-based company, which employs 450 members of staff, opened its purpose-built training block for apprentices late last year.
Mr Towe said: “Our apprenticeship scheme is integral to Hadley’s continuing success as a business. In order to support that, we have built a dedicated training and development facility here at Smethwick.
“Our apprentices train in a proper working environment with machinery that duplicates what is found on the production shop floor.
“The facility is self-funded. All our technical apprentices move around the Hadley Group in order to gain full experience.
“They have a training matrix for two years, with a 10-12 week slot in each department and in their second year, they select a discipline for NVQ level three.”
So far, Hadley has put 14 apprentices through the company training programme, including eight technical workers and six production staff. This year, the company has interviewed 49 apprentices for five positions and shortlisted eight of them.
Hadley supplies to the automotive, construction and agriculture industries and has plants in the United Kingdom, Dubai, Germany and Thailand supplying 36 countries.
Mr Towe said: “One of the reasons why we have developed our apprenticeship programme is to find better links into schools, so that we can make absolutely sure that we have the reputation and facilities to fulfil the apprenticeship programme.
“The international dimensions to what we do also helps, because if we are installing equipment in Dubai, or have a problem at Hadley’s German factory, our apprentices love to get out there. It forms part of their management development at the same time.”
Mr Towe continued: “We have a very successful retention rate at Hadley and I think it’s down to the company culture.
“We started the scheme back in 1969. Since then, 90 apprentices have progressed through our specialised training scheme. We still have 47 of them – just over 50 per cent – and some are now in management positions. These people are the bedrock of Hadley Industries.”
Hadley is a member of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and Mr Towe said it has been a helping hand in the company’s aim of recruiting talented young staff.
He added: “The chamber also helps keep us aware of what others are doing. We realise that we don’t have the monopoly on good ideas – we need to be aware of how our contemporaries work, and the only way we can do this is by attending, being aware of and being part of the Chamber process, which is built around networking with local businesses.
“With the work we are doing in training and encouraging future success, we see the chamber as an opportunity for other businesses to take up the same approach, because we believe that this will build a stronger business for the future.
“If we did not have the chamber to utilize this message, then we wouldn’t have that conduit.”