Moray firms enjoying the reawakening of apprenticeships

MORAY HAS FULLY EMBRACED the concept of the modern apprenticeship – and two Forres-based firms have been showcasing how important it is this week, Scottish Apprenticeship Week.

AJ Engineering and AES Solar employ 15 apprentices between them and so have been keen to play an active role in the week which has been supported by Developing the Young Workforce Moray.

Both have been taking part in workshops at Moray College UHI while their own apprentices have appeared on live social media broadcasts to schools throughout the region.

Moira Stickle, manager of DYW Moray, said she was delighted that Forres was being represented at this level.

She added: “Two fantastic local businesses with an international perspective with modern apprentices at the heart of their people strategy is inspirational to see, and how they value their people as their most important asset is testament to their successes to date.”

Alan James is the man behind AJ Engineering, Forres born and bred he recognised early the importance of modern apprenticeships and delighted at the resurgence in the popularity of apprenticeship schemes.

He said: “I was an apprentice myself and it seems that out there in the wider world it has been reinvented whereas at AJ Engineering it has always been the case that we have had apprentices.

“Don’t get me wrong whatever the reason for apprentices now being so fashionable, I fully support it, apprentices are the lifeblood of our company, but for AJ Engineering it is nothing new.

“Every year we take on new apprentices. We take on at least two each year, but last year due to an increasing workload employed three and we expect that will be the same this year. The reassuring thing for us is the amount of good quality applicants we get.

“Last year there were around 60 applications for three places and it was very difficult to whittle them down as they were all top-class applications. That is reassuring for our industry and more personally for the future of AJ Engineering.”

At AES Solar, managing director George Goudsmit spoke of Jordan Steele, one of three apprentices currently employed in the production of solar thermal panels.

He said: “Having run the company for 27 years, I have finally been taught how to make a panel by an apprentice – and what a great teacher Jordan is.

“It was actually a real treat to be in the workshop and see more about the hands-on work Jordan is doing. I’m usually in the office or flying all over the country to meetings, so it made a really nice change.

“I am always inspired when I see youngsters working on interesting projects, their enthusiasm at trying to be innovative and looking at challenges in a totally different way from mine reminds me of my own youth.

“I invented so many schemes and products and clearly remember being filled with joy when they succeeded and, more often, devastated when they crashed.

“When I see youngsters daring to take responsible risks, my heart goes out to them. We should encourage youngsters to experiment on all levels and that’s what we offer at AES Solar.”