Barretts of Aspley has a “record to be proud of” for its development of young apprentices, according to HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis.
The Bedfordshire Business Ambassador visited Barretts of Aspley Limited’s premises at North Common Farm on Wednesday, 28 September to see the production facility and the BoA Academy in action – meeting some of the apprentices that are currently going through the company’s engineering apprenticeship programme.
Barretts of Aspley (BoA) design, manufacture and install architectural and structural steelwork to the construction industry, employing 115 people at its 100,000 square foot production facility, as well as providing crane and plant hire services through BoA Plant and Joinery Services.
As part of an ongoing programme of growth and investment, the company established the BoA Academy in 2014 to provide apprenticeships in engineering to local young people looking to pursue a career in fabrication, welding, design, or project management. The Academy took in its first intake in 2015 and has just welcomed the new intake for the class of 2016.
HM Lord Lieutenant, Helen Nellis, said: “I was extremely impressed with the creative approach that Barretts of Aspley have taken with regard to development of young people. Their Apprentices Academy is an outstanding environment in which to grow skills and the apprentices I met were clearly highly motivated. The company has a record to be proud of and is an example of one of our notable success stories in Bedfordshire.”
Talking about the development of the idea and construction of the Academy, Barretts of Aspley’s managing director, Antony Barrett, said: “We identified a number of years ago that the nature of the work involved in the production of architectural and structural steelwork retained a huge reliance on the skills of trained fabricators and welders, skills which are becoming increasingly scarce.
“Many of the skills required were originally taught to apprentices in the 1960s and 70s and as that generation approaches retirement age, the industry faces the very real threat of having a major skills shortage if those skills are not passed on.
“At BOA, we decided that the best way to tackle the skills shortage head on was to take on young apprentices and teach them the skills required for a career in the steelwork fabrication and engineering industry.
“Given the specialist nature of our business, finding the perfect fit of ‘off the shelf’ apprenticeships through the traditional day release model was not possible, so we took the decision to build our own academy and deliver bespoke, relevant content in-house while providing apprentices with state-of-the-art facilities to hone their skills.
The Academy opened its doors in 2015 and the year one intake has just completed their first year, with the majority of students achieving distinctions. The second intake arrived with us this month and we have high hopes that they can emulate the achievements of their predecessors.
“We are delighted that the Lord-Lieutenant has chosen to visit us and had the opportunity to the see the Academy in action, as well as meet some of the apprentices and get their feedback on training they are receiving.”
The BoA Academy is always looking for motivated applicants to attend the Academy, and would invite anybody interested in an engineering apprenticeship to enquire via our company website.