Prodrive Composites apprentices qualified for real-world work

UK-based Prodrive Composites, facing a shortage of qualified labor, has launched a highly successful apprenticeship program.

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Prodrive Composites (Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK) reported on March 24 that its composite industry apprenticeship program — the largest of its type in the UK — has graduated 25 Prodrive apprentices from its level 2 NVQ in composites engineering. 

The newly qualified group is now working on program at Prodrive Composite’s factory in Milton Keynes, UK, ranging from the manufacture of components for a number of British sports and supercars to the construction of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) new Mars Rover.

With a dramatic growth in business and a general lack of skilled composite technicians, in what is an expanding global industry, Prodrive took the decision in 2013 to recruit and train its own young talent. Prodrive worked with the Milton Keynes-based TXM Academy to deliver the program, and through a combination of work-based and classroom training, all now have a nationally recognized qualification and the skills necessary for a career in composite engineering.

Chris Smith, Prodrive Composites operations director, who oversaw the apprenticeship program, says: “Back in 2013 we employed about 70 staff, but with major programs coming onstream we realized would soon need nearly 200. There just aren’t that many skilled composite technicians in the UK yet, because it is such a new and growing sector, so our only option was to train our own.  It has turned out to be the best decision we could have made and we have great group of enthusiastic technicians.”

The apprenticeship programme has proved so successful that the company has begun recruiting another 15 apprentices for 2015, who should be qualified in 12 months.