4 minutes read   06 Jun 2023

Upskilling Through Apprenticeships

By Tyrone Price

At Chepstow Plant International (CPI) we are constantly looking for innovative ways to invest in our people and the future of our industry as we work towards meeting the Government’s goals to reach net-zero targets by 2050. That’s why our apprenticeship scheme is one of the bedrocks of our business – scouting and nurturing individuals since 2011 to give them opportunities to become skilled engineers capable of climbing through the ranks of the business.

Here, Tyrone Price, Head of Field Service at CPI tells us why the scheme is a great option for people local to the area who are keen to break into the quarrying and aggregates industry.

How do people apply to work at CPI as an apprentice?

The scheme has been running now for 12 years in conjunction with Bridgend College and College Gwent in Newport. We mainly source school leavers into our apprenticeship scheme from two local schools; Wyedean School in Chepstow and Caldicot Comprehensive School. This usually involves them joining us for work experience the summer before they leave school. They then come to us for a fortnight where they work towards becoming an apprentice when they leave school the following year.

The other avenue is through Bridgend College which also puts forwards students who have been doing the motor vehicle course at the college full-time.

What type of roles does the apprenticeship scheme at CPI include?

All our apprentices do on-site training with us in our Caldicot workshop and go to college for one week every month to focus on the academic side.

An apprentice will experience a bit of everything, from welding to electrical repairs and beyond. Once they’re in their third and fourth year they’ll go out and get experience in on-site repairs with the other qualified engineers in the company.

What are the requirements to become an apprentice?

You need to be a minimum of 16-years-old and be a school leaver with a C in both Maths and English at GCSE level.

What opportunities does an apprenticeship unlock for someone looking to get their foot in the door - what are the benefits?

There are lots of benefits to joining our apprenticeship scheme. We are highly competitive because not many other companies in the area offer apprenticeship schemes at the moment with most only doing a six-month short-term contract with no commitment beyond that.

We offer a full apprenticeship scheme so when they get to the end, they receive their NVQ Level 4 qualification and can then go on to get an engineering or plant degree if they want to.

Why do you think apprenticeships are important to CPI - and the wider industry?

The apprenticeships really are the future for us at CPI. They are the difference between us having fully skilled engineers in the industry who are equipped for the role as opposed to individuals who need to keep coming back to do a job because they don’t have the necessary knowledge required. This ability for the business to deliver first-time fixes on site, under pressure really helps deliver the service and standards to our clients that we aim for.

How many apprenticeships does CPI take on annually?

We take on a minimum of three apprentices every year (two engineers and one welder) and a maximum of six because we group them with a fully skilled engineer. We do have further opportunities for apprentice field-service engineers who we group with experience on-site engineers. For example, we have an apprentice engineer and an apprentice welder currently in Cornwall.

How long does an apprenticeship take?

An apprenticeship takes four years from start to finish. This includes 10 weeks in college per year and the rest is done in our HQ or out on site.

How are apprentices support by the company?

We want people do an apprenticeship with us and stay with us once they’ve completed it, so we really nurture the individuals in our scheme.

In terms of the support we offer, there is extra tuition available at Bridgend College for those who need extra help with their Maths and English to ensure apprentices are fully supported.

We also provide apprentices with a decent wage which is above the national average. We support them with their college course by setting them targets that they must meet.

What’s more, all PPE and specialist tooling that’s required is supplied, as well as the onsite training provided.

Are CPI apprentices based across the country?

The majority are based at our HQ in Caldicot, with 90% of them based there. However, we do have one apprentice who has relocated to Cornwall and another who is completing his scheme later this year in Cornwall.

What happens once the apprenticeship has been completed?

We’re proud to say that everyone that has passed their apprenticeship has been offered a permanent position at CPI to date. What’s more, everyone that has passed the apprenticeship has accepted so we have a great pass and pick up rate. Once completed, apprentices have an NVQ Level 4 qualification.

If you’re interested in finding out more about joining our apprenticeship scheme, contact us here.

By Tyrone Price

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