A group of Leeds students has visited laser cutting and metal fabrication firm Leeds Welding Company as part of the Leeds Manufacturing Festival, to see for themselves the careers and apprenticeships on offer in a modern engineering business.
The festival includes a programme of events running up to October which showcase job and training opportunities available for young people with Leeds’ 1,800 manufacturing businesses.
Leeds Welding Company, a £12m turnover business employing more than 120 people, has recently invested in high-tech laser cutting and robotic welding machinery and plans to take on four new apprentices this year as part of the firm’s long-running apprenticeship and training programme.
Managing director Richard Eaglen, who along with other members of Leeds Welding’s management team began his working life, aged 16, as a sheet metal apprentice, said: “We are firm advocates of apprenticeships, which are a really excellent start on the career ladder for young people. There’s a misconception among parents, and some students, that an apprenticeship with a company like Leeds Welding will result in someone becoming a welder all their life.
“In fact there are tremendous opportunities to learn about all aspects of a modern engineering business, from CAD/CAM technology to production engineering, purchasing and stock control, with the option to develop in an area of the business that is of most interest.”
He added: “For anyone who is considering choosing an apprenticeship over a university course I would say that in the workplace, hands-on education and a grounding in a practical environment has double the value of academic qualifications.”
Leeds Welding, which designs and manufactures metal products such as commercial vehicle chassis components, and carries out metal fabrication for the construction industry, has recently invested in a new agricultural division of the business that manufactures tractor attachments and farm machinery.
Graham Cooper, organiser of the Leeds Manufacturing Festival and a director at Agfa Graphics, said: “Leeds remains one of the UK’s major centres for manufacturing and engineering, and it’s vital that we capture the enthusiasm of young people and inspire them to join the industry. Through the Leeds Manufacturing Festival we have the opportunity to show students and young people across the city the modern high tech careers that are available to them right on their doorstep.”
Now in its second year, the festival is sponsored by RSM, Womble Bond Dickinson, The Works Recruitment and Leeds City College. It is organised by Leeds Manufacturing Alliance, with the support of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, Leeds City Council and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The initiative is complemented by Bradford Manufacturing Weeks, which take place in October.
Manufacturing businesses, schools, and students can find out more about the festival, and how to get involved, at www.leedsmanufacturingfestival.co.uk