M+W Hargreaves managing director, Andy Sneyd, with the newly recruited apprentices.
Set up in 2012, the programme works with schools in the company’s home town of Bury to enthuse young people about engineering careers.
Initially aimed at students between the ages of 9 and 21, the scheme is now reaching even younger children – with activities for five-year-olds launching next year – and has moved into further education with degree-based apprenticeships being developed at Salford University.
The programme reaches more than 500 local school children every year, with M+W Hargreaves working with one local primary school and three secondary schools.
“Experience shows us that the earlier you engage with children, the more likely they are to choose an engineering career,” said M+W Hargreaves managing director Andy Sneyd, who expects 30 percent of the company’s workforce to have come through the EYTP by 2023.
He added: “It is more important than ever that employers work with local schools and colleges to help narrow our industry’s growing skills gap. The EYTP has been a great success and more and more schools want to be involved – we also had a record number of applications to take part this year.”
The process starts with open days at the M+W Hargreaves factory where school children get a taste of the innovation involved in modern building engineering. They are then given engineering challenges to work on in school and are invited to present their solutions during a finals day at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester.
The programme supports students throughout their whole school journey, and the best candidates are offered apprenticeships with the business.
This year, eight received their certificates and formal job offers as part of the prize giving ceremony at the end of the finals day last month.
Teams from St Matthew's Primary School, Broad Oak Sports College, Newmans RC College and Philips High School presented their projects to judges from the Building Engineering Services Association (BESA), Nuvia, The Growth Company, and EEF.
Bury North MP James Frith, who launched EYTP finals day this year, said the scheme also had a crucial role to play in improving diversity in engineering: “It is so important that we encourage more girls and young women to choose engineering and join our brilliant boys in ensuring Bury’s young people head in to highly skilled work.”
Mr Frith added that robots would play more of a role in engineering in the future, but human endeavour would still be the most important factor. He added that engineering is also “an opportunity for young people to make a contribution to society.”