Claims that Catapult Centres are failing to recruit enough apprentices have been rebutted by the AMRC

24 August 2015

An article in the Independent included the suggestion that the Catapults offered only a handful of apprenticeships.

In a joint letter to the Independent, AMRC executive dean Prof Keith Ridgway CBE, Nuclear AMRC chief executive Mike Tynan and AMRC Training Centre head of operations Kerry Featherstone say:

'Contrary to Associate Business Editor Mark Leftly's report, ("Government's flagship research and development centres urged to hire apprentices", Independent, Monday, August 24), Catapult Centres are hiring apprentices - and in our case training hundreds of high level engineering apprentices for the advanced manufacturing sector.

'The University of Sheffield AMRC - which includes the Nuclear AMRC and AMRC with Boeing, both part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult - opened its own Training Centre in 2014.

'The AMRC Training Centre takes 250 advanced apprentices a year, is currently providing training for more than 350 first and second year apprentices and hopes to significantly increase that number with further Government backing.

'A total of 18 of the AMRC's 260 staff are apprentices.

'The Nuclear AMRC, based, not in Manchester, as Mark Leftly's story says, but on the AMRC campus in Catcliffe, Rotherham, has seven apprentices among its 100 staff.

'Both centres' apprentice recruitment, as a proportion of total staff, is well above industry norms.

'What's more, we are not only training our own apprentices and we're training apprentices for companies like Tata Steel and Rolls-Royce, as well as other, local companies from the advanced manufacturing sector.

'During a recent visit to the AMRC, Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, announced that, through the AMRC Training Centre, the University will become one of the first in higher education to offer quality advanced manufacturing Foundation, Undergraduate and Masters degrees using the apprenticeship model jointly funded with businesses.

'This new educational pathway is being piloted thanks to a £1.6m award from the Higher Education Funding Council for England and will give groups under-represented in higher education access to world class university education to create the next generation of engineers.

'As University of Sheffield Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Keith Burnett said during Jo Johnson's visit, a key element of the Government's recent challenge to the UK to find an 'extra gear in productivity' would be providing the very best quality skills of the kind being demanded by high-tech industries such as aerospace and automotive.

'Sir Keith added: "This is why we have added to our world-class research centres an advanced apprentice route which opens up degree level study and beyond in a world-leading University research environment."

'If Mark Leftly would like to come up to the Sheffield region and find out more about this pioneering work, we would be happy to take him around the Training Centre and introduce him to our apprentices.'

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