Filling the Skills Gap with Actionplas, Appris and Apprenticeships

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As one of the leading specialist machinists and suppliers of plastics in the UK, Actionplas offer their expert services to a diverse range of customers. From the automotive industry to the pharmaceutical industry, Actionplas have established themselves as the go-to manufacturing company for both long-term and newly acquired clients.

One of the main reasons for this, explains Ruth Gosnay, head of HR at Actionplas, is the company’s continued commitment to growth and development. Whereas many companies within manufacturing and engineering are unsure about the future of their industries in terms of the skills gap, Actionplas are actively looking at viable solutions.

One such solution can be found in apprenticeships. 

“As with a lot of engineering and manufacturing businesses in the UK, we have a skills gap,” states Ruth. “To combat this, we’ve looked towards the potential in apprenticeship schemes - specifically dealing with local colleges in the area.”

As experts in their own field, Actionplas are a company who recognises the importance of outsourcing certain elements to the people who know what they’re doing. When it comes to apprenticeships, Appris are on the forefront of setting up people who are interested in manufacturing and engineering with companies who can help them get an effective start.

Appris Charity are a registered, not-for-profit charity who also act as an engineering college by offering a variety of courses and ISO accreditations. Their mission is to provide opportunities through advising employers and directing apprentices, so that manufacturing and engineering companies of all kinds can benefit from rising talent.

An example of this can be seen in Actionplas’ most recent apprentice, Jordan Thompson, who recently finished his first year of training. Jordan is seventeen and went into the company straight from school, and will be following through on his four-year apprenticeship scheme.

“Initially, Jordan found the transition into work quite difficult,” says Ruth, “but has adjusted and is now a wonderful employee.”

Jordan has also been awarded Apprentice of the Year by his college - further testament to the expertise of Actionplas and the effectiveness of Appris.

 Actionplas are looking to take on another three apprentices in the near-future; two as CNC machinists, and one into design. As they continue to grow, the company are looking to cover all bases with new and skilled employees.

Ruth has no shortage of positive words to say about Appris Charity, describing their consistent communication, great organisation, and explaining how they regularly send in a tutor to check on their apprentices. 

 “We have a superb relationship with appris, they have been exceptional,” Ruth goes on to say. “We will approach Appris, tell them we’re looking for X-number of apprentices, they’ll handle the interviewing, and will send over the CVs - just like a recruitment company.

“This is ideal - as far as we’re concerned, the candidates we’re seeing are exceptional. Working with Appris, we have no worries at all about new talent coming in.”

When talking about the current state of apprenticeships in manufacturing, particularly in terms of young people, Ruth believes that there should be more resources put into encouraging students to look to alternative options:

“I don’t come from a manufacturing or engineering background - so every day is still a school day for me. But, one thing I’ve noticed is that this stuff isn’t taught in school - the main focus is usually on going to university. But some students want another option - Appris offers this, opening up manufacturing and engineering routeways.”

However, despite all of these great developments, Ruth is aware that there’s still a lot of progress to be made:

“I think we need to work more with the schools - there’s loads more opportunity out there. I recently did a careers fair at the local job centre; I like to talk to young people, to let them know about the apprenticeship opportunities that they might never have known about otherwise.”

Overall, Actionplas are a great example of a company who is going out of their way to ensure that apprenticeships are being utilised to their full extent - to the benefit of everyone involved. Ruth sums this up by stating:

“It’s all about future-proofing. Soon, there will be a huge gap in knowledge and skills, once our current engineers retire. Companies like ourselves are looking to fill that gap now.”