Nylacast, the engineered polymer specialist, has partnered with Leicester College for several years to help students kick-start a career in engineering. Students can get a high-quality hands-on experience through a number of apprenticeships and training courses that Nylacast offers, while expanding on their learning at Leicester College.
Based in Leicester, Nylacast headquarters opened its award-wining training academy in spring 2014 and has spent the last decade investing in more people and machinery. It now has three dedicated internal resources and machinery from hobby lathes, manual machines, and Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines where budding students can hone their skills.
Offering an alternative path to learning
Jack Wilson is training at the academy and is also an ambassador for the apprenticeship scheme. “A lot of schools don’t promote apprenticeships in the way they should, especially for something that’s really good to get into, so I try and show people in year 10 and 11 that it’s a good way to go,” he said.
“Nylacast’s apprenticeship programme has a range of training courses; students can choose from maintenance engineering, business administration apprenticeships, team leader apprenticeships and more.”
Elliot Morris has just finished his apprenticeship and has now progressed onto Nylacast’s Team Leader and Management course. He and Jack found out about Nylacast’s apprenticeship scheme, and subsequently decided to go to college to further develop their skills and knowledge.
“I’ve learnt so much during my apprenticeship,” Elliot says. “Machining is a big part of the course, but I also learnt a range of problem solving that comes with it, because you have to think of many different problems that you’ve got to deal with.
“Once I’ve finished my Team Leader course, I’ll hopefully stay here and progress to a team leader, but then I want to go on to be a supervisor and take on more of a managerial role.”
Apprenticeships are vital for businesses
Nylacast works closely with Leicester College to ensure that engineering students and apprentices get the most out of the course, giving students a level of flexibility that allows them to shape their career as they want it.
Ian Mallabone, Group HR and Training Manager at Nylacast, says: “Our training academy has been vital to us as a business as the engineering sector has struggled with engineering apprentices in the last two decades. We recognised that quite early on and started to bring in apprentices about 14 years ago. We now have a dedicated space where we can take apprentices through a four-year programme in just one area of the business and it’s absolutely vital to us as the engineering market becomes even more competitive.”
Deana White, HR and Training Officer at Nylacast was the first dedicated resource for the training academy when it opened nearly 10 years ago. She explains that first year apprentices stay mainly in the academy to learn all the manual machines and the basics of engineering but can then go on to do placements in different areas of the business to get a broader understanding of what goes on in the background.
“In the second year, we start to put them on the shop floor,” she says. “They start to actually operate the machinery and then we begin to train them up on doing programming training and operator and setter training so that they can progress through the shop floor.”
Taking the next step
Due to the number of different apprenticeships and training courses on offer at Nylacast, many apprentices stay on to progress with the business or take the next step in their careers with further training courses. In fact, the number of apprentices that Nylacast retains has actually brought the company’s age demographic down in some of the departments.
“What’s happened recently is some of the people have done apprenticeships and then gone on to do the operational management course, which is a level 5 apprenticeship,” Deana says. “Some are going on to start the team leader training courses as well as other level 3 apprenticeships. We try to get them to do more training as they finish their apprenticeship so that they can still progress throughout the company.”
Jack and Elliot’s time with Nylacast has equipped them with the skills and knowledge to fast-track their careers, and while they may have different plans for the future, they are in agreement when it comes to the value of apprenticeships.
“My friends are just finishing university and they’ve all got £50-60k debt,” Elliot says. “But I’ve finished my apprenticeship at the same age. I have no debt and I’ve been earning money for the past four or five years.”
“I’d definitely recommend apprenticeships to anyone who doesn’t like the idea of school or higher education,” Jack says. “They’re so hands on and you get the work experience at the same time.”
Helping to place apprentices with key employers
Tina Jivraj, Business Development and Account Manager at Leicester College, liaises with the apprenticeship team at Nyalcast and other key local employers. She says: “We are so pleased to see our apprentices at Nylacast doing so well. As the leading training provider for apprenticeships in Leicestershire, apprentices are the mainstay of Leicester College, and we want to ensure they have the support and training they need whilst also delivering a high-quality service to our key employers.”