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Apprentices Benefit From Collaborative Approach

Collaboration has been the key for employers and apprentices on the Diploma in Casting being delivered by the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers in conjunction with a local college.

The Diploma is a UK-based level 3 technical qualification and is suitable for anyone seeking to get a better understanding of casting and casting technology. It can be taken as a standalone qualification by employed individuals but is also a technical certificate for those on an advanced apprentice programme where it is combined with NVQ units and other elements, as in the present programme.

The apprentices’ companies have been actively involved in mentoring the apprentices, who are spending four days a week at work and one day off the job learning about casting technology. The companies have also provided locations for works visits and practical sessions to ensure that the curriculum can be delivered. 

The apprentices have benefitted from a range of experiences and a formal programme of study that will underpin their future careers, and, in particular, have been able to have opportunities that would not be available within their own companies alone - both to meet other people from the industry and see a wider range of companies with their differing processes, equipment and work practices. 

This company involvement has been vital to the programme and ICME is keen to embed this approach into the delivery for future cohorts. Also, the institute has relied on its members and industry supply companies to offer expert lectures and technical information. 

Pam Murrell of ICME notes: “This has been a learning curve for all - for us in finding a way to deliver a programme for young people in small groups with limited resources, as much as for the apprentices who have had to learn to be independent, away from a formal school setting, and being able to combine studying with work. We are not school teachers and they have had to learn that the responsibility for completing work lies with them at the end of the day.

“Of course the employers have played an important role in this, helping to monitor progress and maintain interest levels. They also need to be able to plan a programme for their apprentices in the works so that they are able to meet the practical assessments required for the NVQ programmes, but this has not been difficult as assessment visits are planned in advance. The companies currently involved include J & J Siddons, Charter Castings Ltd, Thomas Dudley Ltd, Castings plc, Meighs Castings Ltd, Saint Gobain PAM UK and The Boro’ Foundry. Their active engagement in this programme is a credit to them and the programme would not be possible without their support.”

Nick Norton, chair of the employer steering group and MD of The Boro’ Foundry, which has four apprentices currently, explains: “We have been pleased to be actively involved – as a company, we have a vested interest in ensuring that our young apprentices have a good experience and come out of this programme with a positive attitude as well as new skills and knowledge. As we are effectively reinventing our industry’s apprentice programme, the input and support of a wider range of people who know and understand the industry is very valuable. I have taken our role in the programme very seriously and have provided as much support and input to our apprentices as possible to supplement the formal programme and although, as a small company, this has been challenging, we are a business producing a wide range of engineered products for demanding customers and need skilled individuals to take our business forward. Not engaging in developing our future skills base is just not an option.”

For more information on the Diploma or other wide-ranging training options contact Pam Murrell at ICME, Tel: +44 (0) 121 601 6979, email: pam@icme.org.uk web: www.icme.org.uk