Thriving apprentice programme recognised with award

Coventry-based manufacturing automation business, FANUC UK, has been presented with an award by training business, Midland Group Training Services (MGTS).

Supported by the Skills Funding Agency, a partner organisation of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), MGTS presents the award annually to businesses that have illustrated a sustained commitment and loyalty to the apprentice programme.

FANUC has been committed to its apprentice programme since 1997, when it identified that suitably qualified and experienced engineers were becoming harder to find. Mark Arbon, engineering manager at FANUC, explained, “The skills required in the robotics industry are not unique but they are multi-disciplined so developing our own engineers with the core skill requirements makes a lot of sense.

“Our first apprentice, Michelle Bottrill, started in August 1997 and after completing the apprenticeship became a project engineer - now 16 years on she is FANUC’s Parts, Training and Service sales manager. Past apprentices continue to progress well through the business - Craig Taylor an apprentice in 2002 is now based at FANUC’s European headquarters in Luxembourg in a product support role.”

Four apprentices are currently employed by FANUC at varying stages of the programme. The first year is spent ‘off the job’ at MGTS where essential basics in areas including hydraulics and pneumatics are covered leading to a BTEC Diploma. Apprentices spend the following three years working at FANUC in a variety of related roles while attending college, to HNC level, and being monitored by MGTS supervisors to achieve NVQ level 3.

Apprentices are encouraged and have every opportunity to progress academically as well as practically. Tom Sullivan a year four apprentice will be going on to university to study for an engineering degree later this year.

Arbon concluded, “We understand the importance of encouraging young people to engineering and this extends to taking on ‘gap year’ students, supporting school visits and being active with organisations such as The Imagineering Foundation.”

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