Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Electronics firm plugs skills gap
Article Type: Notes and news From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 40, Issue 5
An electronic-manufacturing company whose growth plans were threatened by a shortage of skilled staff – it had been running with three production vacancies for 12 months – decided to “grow its own” with a new apprenticeship scheme.
Axis Electronics, which makes high-quality printed-circuit boards for the defense, telecommunications and information-technology industries, was formed in 1995 from a management buyout of Texas Instruments.
Paul Tipping, finance and human-resource manager, said: “Inability to increase skilled staff levels would have meant having to turn down orders and therefore risk losing customers. We decided that the best way forward to ensure sustained skill levels is to grow our own talent, and we decided to invest in apprentices. We wanted three apprentices but decided to recruit five, to be on the safe side, as it was assumed that two would leave within months. Taking on five apprentices was a big decision at the time as it meant increasing our workforce by over 8 per cent.”
Recruited from more than 40 applicants, the school-leavers, aged 16 to 18, have made “brilliant progress” in their time with Axis.
The four manufacturing apprentices did an accelerated NVQ level two in performing engineering operations, and moved on to level three. The one maintenance apprentice gained his NVQ level two and now has a maintenance and support role in manufacturing.
Bedford Training Group provided the training on day-release, with the cost being met by the Learning and Skills Council.
Paul Tipping said: “We have grown five skilled electronics-manufacturing staff. The apprentices became valuable employees quicker than we expected and are now of similar caliber to the skilled staff we would normally recruit. Lack of skills in the area is no longer seen as a barrier to our growth as we have proved that growing our own talent can be a great success.”
The success has changed Axis culture. “We now have a very positive attitude of management and staff towards taking on apprentices and trainees,” Paul Tipping continued. “In fact, another three manufacturing trainees and three apprentices have been taken on, for the customer-service, engineering and administration functions.”
Axis Electronics was highly commended in the 2003 National Training Awards, with a company-wide training program that helped the business to grow. More recently, the apprentice scheme won the company an East of England regional title in the National Training Awards.