They are young, full of promise and just starting out. Thanks to a government initiative, they are gaining entry to attractive workplaces as apprentices. James Walkington, 19, is one of them.
The government initiative aims to bring more young people into the labour market, and LKAB Minerals in England has begun to recruit apprentices. They work as lab technicians, electrical engineers, welders/fitters and in sales.
The apprenticeship system is backed by HETA (the Humberside Engineering Training Association). Under the guidance of experienced mentors, the apprentices receive practical training in the workplace as well external tuition, one day a week in local colleges, towards their vocational qualification,.
"We see several advantages with the apprenticeship system. Young people are offered a way into working life, and the programme helps us in the process of succession planning," says Kathy Walker, HR manager for LKAB Minerals in England.
HETA is active in three locations in the Humber region and trains more than 200 Level 3 Advanced Apprentices in 190 companies, among them, LKAB Minerals. Thanks to funding via the Skills Funding Agency, they are able to offer trainee positions in local companies, thereby bridging the gap between industry and education. In 2012 HETA received funding from North Lincolnshire Council. This helped to sponsor several placements in local companies such as LKAB, where the young people are able to continue their training and complete the apprenticeship programme.19-year-old James Walkington is doing an apprenticeship in electrical engineering at LKAB Minerals. This is a three-year apprenticeship programme. James has just completed his first year.
"In the first year, we gained a theoretical understanding and did practical exercises to test the principles we had learned during the theory lessons. Over the next two years I will be able to apply the knowledge and skills that I have acquired during my first year. At the same time, I will learn new electrical engineering applications at LKAB Minerals," explains James Walkington.
How did you become an apprentice at LKAB Minerals?
"HETA contacted LKAB to enquire about possible vacancies for apprentices. LKAB Minerals chose me from among 15 applicants," says James Walkington.
Since joining the company, James has had many unique learning opportunities.
"For example, I have designed a control circuit for the dust extraction systems. Currently, I am looking into ways of lowering the carbon footprint here at the site in Flixborough by using more efficient lighting systems that use less energy but still produce the same intensity," says James Walkington.
The study programme will qualify James for a Higher National Certificate in Electrical Engineering. Eventually, studies will also lead to a more independent role in the electrical engineering department at LKAB Minerals.
"So far, I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences here at LKAB. I have had the chance to work on bespoke pieces of equipment, which has been a unique experience. And thanks to my mentor, Nick Czabaniuk, I have been able to learn a great deal about the application of electrical power within the minerals industry."
19-year-old James Walkington is doing an apprenticeship in electrical engineering at LKAB Minerals.
Kathy Walker, HR manager for LKAB Minerals in England.
TEXT: JOHANNA FOGMAN
PHOTO: HENDEN WEDDINGS