Ashford College
15 February 2019

Apprenticeships Recast

Natashia Whitewood 3

The 17th January saw the launch of the government’s ‘Fire It Up’ campaign, which focuses on the energy and new ideas that an apprentice can bring to a business, aiming to alter outmoded views in the process. With uncertain times ahead, there has never been a more critical time for employers to consider this potential and place workplace-based training front and centre of their agenda.

Ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, we spoke to one of the employers we work with to discover the benefits that an exceptional apprentice can bring to a business: 

Engineering & metal work group MJ Allen specialises in machining large complex sand castings, producing parts for the marine and medical industry as well as developing and producing an innovative all-wheel drive gearbox for the new Ford Transit. Their apprentice, Natashia Whitewood, is studying an Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering Maintenance, which includes the Level 4 Higher National Certificate in Engineering.

Michelle Sinclair, the firm’s HR Manager says: “There is an aging workforce in the castings and machining area and we’re one of the very few foundries left now in Kent. It’s only been within the last 10 years that we’ve realised the need to implement an apprenticeship programme and we’re really seeing the benefits.

”The scheme had worked successfully in our machine shop, so we implemented it more widely across the business.

“Natashia has come on in leaps and bounds. She is hugely efficient – and it has worked well for everybody. Our Head of Maintenance is very pleased with her progress and the whole team are really appreciative in having such an eager learner.”

Natashia Whitewood 1

Natashia adds: “I was working as a chef, but had decided that the catering industry wasn’t for me – the hours were fairly gruelling and I wanted my Christmas holidays back!”

“Being part of the maintenance team offers very diverse work: installation, fault-finding, frame work, roof work, plumbing, welding and casting leak testing. And the requirement to provide evidence for my HNC gives me that extra push in my work.”

Natashia Whitewood 2