Celebrations as first ever manufacturers recognised with Engineering Apprenticeships: Employer Kitemark accreditations

3 mins read

A cohort of manufacturing and engineering firms from across the UK celebrated on National Manufacturing Day 2022 (7th July), as they became the first ever companies to receive the ground-breaking Make UK Engineering Apprenticeships: Employer Kitemark Accreditation.

The Make UK Engineering Apprenticeships: Employer Kitemark Accreditation recognises exemplar employers of engineering apprentices - companies that have undergone a 12 month accreditation process that includes satisfaction surveys of existing engineering apprentices and benchmarking of the company’s apprenticeship scheme against industry best practices.

The Kitemark is achieved via involvement in the Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme from Next Gen Makers, which is backed by the national manufacturing representative body Make UK. Companies are recognised with either the Gold standard ‘Excellent Employer’ Kitemark status, or the Silver standard ‘Aspiring for Excellence’ status.

On the 7th July 2022, decision makers and engineering apprentices from companies (including KUKA UK, Weir Group, Wienerberger UK, Thomas Dudley Limited, Eminox, Ishida Europe, AE Aerospace, Redhill Manufacturing, AE Aerospace, Brown McFarlane, Fablink Group and Alucast Ltd) celebrated as they received their Award trophies and certificates of accreditation at a dedicated awards dinner held at the Make UK Technology Centre in Aston, Birmingham. 

The event also saw speeches from Make UK CEO Stephen Phipson CBE along with Nicky Hill, a former EEF Apprentice and Managing Director of Accura Engineering emphasizing the vital role that engineering and manufacturing firms that are committed to apprenticeship schemes play in helping to bridge the UK engineering skills gap.

Stephen Phipson, Make UK CEO, commented: “It’s vital that would-be apprentices feel comfortable and confident when selecting an engineering employer, who will give them the right support and training throughout their apprenticeship and beyond.

“This kitemark complements and builds on the programmes that Make UK and Next Gen Makers have already developed which are key to helping place apprentices and enable employers to bridge the skills gap which is currently affecting the sector.”

Since its’ launch just over twelve months ago the Next Gen Makers Engineering Apprenticeships: Best Practice Programme has continued to grow at pace – and now represents an online community of UK engineering and manufacturing firms committed to achieving excellence in how they attract, develop, and retain young engineering talent through best practice sharing, whilst working to achieve best practice benchmarks.

Companies now actively involved in the Programme range from blue chip multinational firms to SME, family owned manufacturers. Those choosing to pursue Kitemark Accreditation fall into one of two annual accreditation cycles; June, and January, with the only qualifying criteria being a minimum of three current Engineering Apprentices.

All companies are re-accredited each year to retain the Kitemark or improve their achieved Kitemark level. Those awarded with the Kitemark accreditation will then leverage this as a differentiator to stand out as an employer of choice for young engineering talent.

Reflecting on their experience of the Programme and being one of the first companies in the UK to be awarded the Gold standard ‘Excellent Employer’ Kitemark accreditation, David Rose, head of quality at KUKA UK, said: “We are proud to be recognised as an exemplar employer of Engineering Apprentices, which further enhances the excellent reputation that our apprenticeship scheme has. Through the best practice benchmarking involved within the Programme, we have also been able to identify areas to improve and have actively worked to implement those improvements.

“Some of these improvements have been supported by the best practice insight we have gained from listening to other companies that are part of the group. The fact that this is employer led and you get to hear the things that are working for other companies has been hugely beneficial to us.”

Tony O’Reilly managing director at Stoke on Trent based carbon and stainless-steel plate stockholder Brown McFarlane added: “Brown McFarlane are delighted to be part of the inaugural cohort of companies to be recognised with the Make UK Engineering Apprenticeships: Employer Kitemark Accreditation - and we are thrilled to have gained the ‘Excellent Employer’ status.

“We are proud of our success rate with apprentices, supporting their learning and helping them grow as individuals, who are going to add real value and energy to the business. We are confident that working within this initiative, improving structure, using the online tools, and sharing best practice will enable us to further improve our approach.

“The Kitemark and being recognised as an excellent employer should help us to attract local talent, keep us focused on improvement and ensure we continue to provide the best environment for our future apprentices.”