Whale Tankers is celebrating more than 12 years of its highly successful apprenticeship scheme, which has seen 29 young people pass through the programme and who are now reaping the rewards and benefits of undertaking a scheme with the company.
Mark Warmington, Managing Director for Whale Tankers and himself a former apprentice, explains: “Developing the potential of young people is very important to us all at Whale and we take our responsibility of bringing on the next generation of skilled engineers very seriously.
“For our organisation this brings many benefits, in particular we can develop our own people so that not only do they gain engineering skills and expertise that will see them through their working lives, but they also learn about other areas that are important to the business such as sales, purchasing, service and HR. In addition to their formal training, all apprentices spend time working in different departments at Whale so as they develop, they will appreciate the various elements and requirements of a successful global business.
“We started our apprentice scheme more than 12 years ago and continued with it even during the difficult years of the recession as we believe it is not only important for the young people involved, but also essential to the development and growth of talent that is so vital for our company’s long term future and that of the wider manufacturing industry.”
One of Whale’s most recent apprentices is Alexandra Capewell, who like many young people was carefully considering her options when finishing her ‘A’ levels a few years ago. Today she is two years into her apprentice scheme and is already establishing a career in engineering with Whale.
Alexandra decided against going to university initially and instead chose the apprenticeship route with Whale. Educated at Tudor Grange School in Solihull, she later attended Solihull School Sixth Form College where she gained ‘A’ levels in maths, biology and photography.
Alexandra said: “I had been considering a career in engineering and felt that joining a company like Whale Tankers on an apprentice scheme where I can get practical hands on experience and learn about the business in a real working environment would be extremely beneficial for me.
“Since taking up the scheme I’ve not only been gaining knowledge in a wide range of areas and departments including sales, purchasing and sales, I have even been representing the company at trade shows.”
Alex added: “In addition to the various exams and qualifications I’ve just completed under the apprenticeship scheme, this September I am undertaking a degree in engineering one day a week at Warwickshire College, with Coventry University being the awarding body. I’d thoroughly recommend the apprenticeship route to any other young people out there considering their future career paths.”
The Whale apprentice scheme is run in conjunction with IMECHE (Institution of Mechanical Engineers) and apprentices attend Warwickshire College to receive their formal training. The qualifications they study for include EAL Level 3 NVQ Extended Diploma in Fabrication and Welding Engineering, City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in Engineering, Functional Skills Level 2 in Maths, English and ICT. Also covered are related topics such as Employment Responsibilities and Rights and Personal Learning and Thinking Skills.
Following completion of these courses and qualifications, some apprentices have the opportunity to go on to study for HNC/HND and engineering degrees.
An important part of the process at Whale is the use of previous apprentices to mentor those coming up through the scheme. One such mentor is Jamie Timmins, who successfully completed his apprenticeship a few years ago and is now a full time employee with Whale. Jamie works closely with the HR team on the programme, shares his knowledge and gives advice and support, particularly to new apprentices as well as assisting the more established apprentices with any areas or issues they may need help with.
Lisa Terry, HR Manager for Whale who is responsible for the apprenticeship scheme, added: “It is great to have keen and talented young people like Alexandra taking up our apprentice schemes. We’ve been running our programme for a long time now and it is good to see many other companies from different sectors also getting involved in offering apprenticeships.
“These are testing times for young people who are trying to determine their futures and apprentice schemes are undoubtedly a practical and worthwhile route for those young people looking to build their careers.”
Potential candidates for the Whale Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering scheme are required to possess five GCSEs or equivalent grade C and above including English, maths and a core science subject. Stage one of the application process involves an initial assessment with an interview and site visit, with stage two including a one day assessment with basic testing.