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Rotec takes on the challenge of training
Rotec takes on the challenge of training
Rotec takes on the challenge of training
Rotec takes on the challenge of training

Rotec takes on the challenge of training

Added to MTDCNC by WNT (UK) Ltd on 26 August 2014

Like many modern engineering manufacturing companies, Rotec Engineering recognises the need to develop the next generation of engineers through good quality training. However, disillusionment with the quality of its apprentices being trained by external resources, the Evesham-based company has decided to invest in its own in-house training, with the support of WNT (UK).

The project is being driven by Managing Director, Paul Butler who is, as he puts it, a ‘classically trained’ engineer, who came up through the traditional apprentice route: 'I believe that the current system of outsourcing apprentice training has gone downhill, with the bias moving towards the providers creating funding success rather than delivering engineers with an all-round grasp of the skills needed in a modern manufacturing environment, but also general business dynamics. What we are creating here, we believe, will be a model that can create high quality engineers, without a reliance on Government funding, and one that can be rolled out and copied by other forward thinking engineering businesses.'

The result of Mr Butler’s disappointment in the system is the opening of the Rotec Engineering Academy, located in a separate unit on the Rotec Business Centre, next to its main manufacturing site. This Engineering Academy is headed by Rotec’s Paul Howard, who is focussed on developing a facility that will meet not just Rotec’s requirements, but those of other engineering companies in the Evesham area. Currently it has six full time students and six apprentices in training, however in September these numbers almost triple to 30 students, 22 of which will be from other companies. 'We had become so frustrated by apprentices coming back to us relatively well trained in basic mechanical engineering skills, but with no understanding at all on how a business operates. By this I mean they had no knowledge of labour, material and plant costs and the work ethic was certainly lacking. So this academy will provide all of those skills and more,' says Paul Howard.

Rotec hasn’t broken links with mainstream education establishments entirely, though, as it is working alongside South Worcestershire College, which has been provided with a suite of PCs and CAD software by Rotec. And between Rotec and the College the facility is been equipped with modern turning and milling machines. As part of this relationship the students are also been given extra lessons to cover subjects that are not within the syllabus including lean manufacturing, commercial awareness and how business operate. In addition, staff members at Rotec are working in partnership with the Imagineering Foundation to develop interest in engineering in senior and middle schools in the region. Rotec also sits on the Employment Skill Board of the Local Enterprise Partnership, working alongside multi-national companies such as Worcester Bosch and Yamazaki Mazak to shape the delivery of engineering skills at a county level.

Working with other businesses is vital to the success of the Academy as Paul Howard explains: 'We accept that we cannot do this all on our own and that is why we are encouraging our supply chain to get involved. We need to foster a relationship with wider industry and this will allow the apprentices that come through the academy to gain a wider insight into the world of manufacturing through work experience places with our suppliers. This has been supported by linking up with a local recruitment Consultant Hewett Recruitment. While this has been a success at a local level, Rotec wanted to find a national sponsor that shared its values and beliefs in the future of engineering. That is why we were happy when WNT (UK) came on board as a supporter of what we are doing here.'

'We share common goals with WNT in that both businesses recognise the importance of developing the next generation of engineers and they are very enthusiastic about working with schools and colleges to get the message across that engineering is a great career choice. All of WNT’s Technical Sales engineers are STEM ambassadors and we will work with them to put together presentations on cutting tool application at the Rotec Academy. In addition, all of the apprentices will spend a day in Sheffield at WNT’s Technical Centre to gain a greater insight into cutting tool design and application.'

As part of it support for the Rotec Engineering Academy WNT (UK) is also presenting it with a number of toolholders, as well as significant discount on all the consumable tools that it will be using. 'We believe that as a major supplier to the engineering sector we have to support that industry by putting something back in where we can. The obvious route for us is to provide assistance in the form of advice from our engineering team and also financially through WNT’s 50 per cent education discount, which is available to all schools, colleges and training establishments that have a focus on engineering,' says Adrian Fitts, Business Development Manager, WNT (UK). 'We are making full use of our technical centre in Sheffield for student visits and have close ties with many colleges up and down the country thanks to the enthusiasm of our technical sales engineers. At WNT we feel that it is important to encourage engineering at this level and we are fully committed to this particular project, as we are with others such as 4x4 in Schools which started the process of our engineers becoming STEM Ambassadors.'

Of course, all work and no play is no fun and here WNT is assisting further by sponsoring Paul Butler’s son William, who is still in full-time education, but is competing in the British Junior Formula 1000 Rally Championship, where he currently sits in third place. 'We are using the rally car as part of the mix at the Engineering Academy. The rules of the championship mean that there is limited scope to modify the engine of Will’s Peugeot 106. However, we can take weight out of the car and here we can apply skills learnt in the classroom to work out the gains that can be made, we can then machine parts to remove weight or make new parts if required. This tangential approach to automotive engineering helps to keep the apprentices interested and they can see the practical side of what they are learning put in to practice,' says Paul Butler.

'At the end of the day, though, what we are aiming to achieve here is to develop skills that
employers want, which as well as technical skills includes developing a strong work-ethic, self-discipline, teamwork, time management, communication skills, problem solving and professionalism. We will develop this with the assistance of our partners, such as WNT, and hopefully we will ensure that all of the apprentices that pass through the academy are ready for employment when they leave. I am under no illusion that maybe 50 per cent of those apprentices will move on and work for other companies. Some may eventually start their own businesses and be in competition with Rotec. To be honest, nothing would give me greater pleasure.'


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