Telford based Air Systems Group has taken on five apprentices over the last few months, bringing the staff total to 23. Managing Director Bill Cooper founded the business in 1989 after serving an apprenticeship at GKN wheel division starting as a 16 year old mechanical maintenance engineer and leaving at 21 with a HNC in mechanical engineering. "Because I started my own working life as an apprentice I understand the value of training in the workplace."
"We have divisions as diverse as pneumatic and process control, plastic pipe work and fabrication, industrial engraving, sign design and manufacturing, so we are able to offer a broad range of experience to our apprentices." The apprentice scheme is run in partnership with Matrix Training which assesses the youngsters' progress as they work within the different departments of the Stafford Park firm.
Rose Smith (20) who works full time at Air Systems, joined the firm last year and is a second year apprentice in business and administration. She said: "Being an apprentice is a great opportunity. I have learned a great deal in a very small space of time."
Josh Lucas (18) left Idsall School at 16 for a call centre job but was made redundant within 7 months. After a brief spell doing building work he found it very difficult to get a job despite making 50 job applications. Josh, who had almost given up hope of ever finding work until he was offered the post at Air Systems Group, said: "It's nice being in a small company and I am getting an engineering qualification."
Bill, who has been in business for more than 30 years, added: "It's a win-win situation. The apprentices gain skills, confidence and experience while helping to secure the long term future of the business. "Should I be asked if I would recommend taking on apprentices, my answer would most definitely be yes. Every one of our apprentices is a valued asset to the business."
Derek Ford, of Matrix Training, said that they liked to work with companies which value apprentices and want to nurture them to gain the best experience in what could be their first job. " Our future is our youth and companies like the Air Systems Group are providing genuine opportunities for sustainable long term employment and career prospects for young people though the apprenticeship route. " It is all very easy to forget that we were all young once and young people bring a new enthusiasm and dynamics to a business. "With the right mentoring they can be more adaptable, learn new tasks much quicker and add real value to a business."