A-Z Engineering in Ellesmere provides CNC precision engineering solutions for a local and national customer base. The bespoke items manufactured require competent, well skilled engineers who can produce high quality products within the ever-demanding timescales that customers need. They prove solutions and add value to the development and creation of specialist products within various industries including agriculture, motor, defence and aviation. Exceptional quality standards are essential and a culture of continuous learning and development is paramount.
The business is well established and has grown from strength to strength in recent years with output doubling in the last five years as more manufacturing organisations have outsourced their tool room and specialist work to A-Z. “This has been fantastic” says Director Paul Knowles “but it has highlighted the worrying engineering skills shortage, the UK is currently facing. We have invested in new CNC machining centres, but struggled to upskill and source staff to enable our operation to achieve its full potential. We started to look for ‘time served’ people to join us but soon found that they were not there so we decided to investigate apprenticeships.
Our first apprentice was Ali Kerr. Ali joined the company having already partly completed his advanced apprenticeship in mechanical manufacturing engineering. He was an excellent addition to our team, and while completing his apprenticeship was able to improve our off line programming capabilities and multi batch component jig/fixturing, which reduced costs, benefiting our customers. Apprenticeships are the answer for us and Ali was followed by Sam Jones who completed the same apprenticeship and we now have Jonathan Price who is following an Advanced Apprenticeship in Improving Operational Performance.’
All of the apprenticeships have been led by SBC Training which has done a great job. The staff there take the trouble to find out exactly what we need and then customise the day release accordingly. Class sizes are small so that apprentices have good trainer contact and less confident learners can’t be lost at the back. The apprenticeship programmes have brought much needed technical skills in to the business but the key skills and life skills built in to the programmes have also helped our young people develop confidence and prepare for their future careers.”
The foreman at A-Z is very hands on and keen to develop people. His philosophy is ‘if you don’t give people a chance they don’t learn. You have to let them try and then they can develop’. This is certainly paying off for A-Z Engineering and providing tremendous opportunities for aspiring engineers locally.