Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has today (9 September) visited a long-standing Tees Valley manufacturer who has boosted its workforce by taking on eight new apprentices in two months – following years of successful recruitment.
Middlesbrough’s Lionweld Kennedy Flooring has more than 100 years of experience in the design, fabrication, manufacture, and supply of open steel grating, handrailing and stair treads.
Since 2016, with the launch of the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy, eight previous apprentices have already progressed through the scheme, with the firm taking them on full-time, and supporting some to secure degrees.
Now it is swelling its ranks and going even further in supporting young people, with many more joining the firm in July and August alone and some vacancies still to be filled, in roles including engineering design, engineering operations and welding, as well as in business administration roles.
They will undergo training with the Middlesbrough-based Northern Skills Group – part of Middlesbrough College Group – as part of their personal development with some currently completing their HNC, with the view to progressing onto degree apprenticeships and permanent members of staff.
The Tees Valley Mayor and Combined Authority can support businesses to take on apprentices through its Apprenticeship Support Grant. This enables small and medium-sized businesses to create opportunities in sectors facing high demand and growth with support of up to £3,000 per apprentice.
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said: “At this time more than ever, as we continue to recover our economy from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, we need to make sure our region’s young people aren’t getting left behind.
“Lionweld Kennedy is going above and beyond in securing these new apprentices and, along with our region’s training providers like the Northern Skills Group, are helping to give them the skills they need to thrive in good-quality careers right here in Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool. It was fantastic to meet them and see first-hand how the new recruits are getting on in their apprenticeships.
“I’ve long said university isn’t for everybody, and there are plenty of options for training and study, including apprenticeships. These also benefit businesses too, who can develop hard-working, reliable employees if they take a chance and give them a leg-up.
“To help them do that, we’re still running the Apprenticeship Support Grant scheme to make it even easier to get people trained up and in-post, helping to boost our businesses and economy. I’d urge all SMEs looking to grow to support a young person and see what support is available to you.”
One apprentice who has seen success at Lionweld Kennedy is Jacob Marshall, apprentice draughtsman, aged 19 from Redcar.
Jacob said: “I’m really grateful for this opportunity to not only work and earn but also achieve a qualification that will give me a whole career. Lionweld Kennedy is well set up for apprentices, so we are all supported from day one and I feel like part of the team.
“Many of my friends still don’t know what they’ll do when they leave college, so it feels great to have a clear path to follow.”
Mark Henderson, Business Development Director at Lionweld Kennedy said “We recruit for such a wide range of roles including technical, head office departments and factory based, so to be able to bring young people into the business who become trained in their individual specialism is a huge advantage.
“We’re particularly proud of our retention rate and how many apprentices stay within the business, adding value for many years in some cases.”
Dawn Smith, Skills Development Manager at Northern Skills Group, said: “Northern Skills Group has been working with Lionweld to build apprenticeship programmes that create a sustainable workforce for the future of the business. We’ve helped Lionweld build the skills it needs to grow by creating technical and professional skills programmes and through our apprenticeship recruitment service. It’s fantastic to see the business reap the rewards of investing in skills.”