14 January 2009

Attracting new blood into manufacturing

Luton manufacturing technology company Trumpf has long believed that innovation fires enthusiasm and last week it proved it. At the end of a very successful Open House event it invited sixth form students from Aylesbury Grammar School and a group of modern apprentices from Barnfield College to see its latest sheet metalworking technology. Several of the machines on show were only launched in October so there was certainly no shortage of innovation. “Our aim was not to lecture but inspire these young people,” explained Trumpf’s Steve Ingram. “What they saw was a real eye opener to many of them.”

The students from Aylesbury were accompanied on the day by maths teacher, Dave Switzer and design technology teacher, Sarah Giddings. Dave was particularly keen to show how competence in maths can lead to an exciting career in engineering. As a man who worked in the industry before becoming a teacher he is disappointed at how few students pursue maths, science or engineering to degree level. “I see so many get an excellent grade at A-level only to opt for a completely unrelated subject at university,” Dave explains. “I want to do what I can to halt that trend by showing my students the potential in manufacturing. Trumpf is an excellent partner in this regard as not only is the company local to us but it’s also a world leader.”

Two of Trumpf’s own apprentices, Joe Burton (20 years) and Nathan Osborne (19 years) were amongst the Barnfield College Group that also saw the latest generation machines. Trumpf worked very closely with Barnfield College on the appointment of its own apprentices. Indeed Barnfield undertook the entire selection procedure by interviewing the 100+ candidates for the posts and then presenting Trumpf with a shortlist of five.

At the press conference held on the student day, Trumpf MD Harmut Pannen confirmed he had no doubt that given good financial support British manufacturing had the capability of pulling the UK out of recession. However this was countered with a warning. “With older engineers seeking early retirement and inevitable redundancies there is a real danger of a significant skills gap,” he said. “This is why I am particularly pleased to confirm that Trumpf UK is the first of the sales subsidiaries in the Trumpf Group to embrace apprenticeship training. We’re playing our part in investing in new blood that will have a major bearing on the future of manufacturing.”

The Trumpf Open House event, that spanned three days with the final day devoted to students, also proved to be a great commercial success. In total orders just short of a million were taken, many for projects that are due for completion before Christmas. It proves that UK manufacturers are continuing to invest in capital equipment with those involved in export and aerospace leading the field. “We were delighted with the visitor numbers and that so many arrived with tangible projects to discuss,” General Manager, Dave Foulks concluded. “It really was a very positive event from everyone’s perspective.”

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