GE Aviation's aerostructures business at Hamble hosted a visit by Catherine Bearder, MEP for South East England and Mike Thornton MP for Eastleigh.
Supporting this event was Ian Smith from the National Apprenticeship Service. The aim of the visit was for GE to share their commitment to the Apprenticeship Programme, together with other initiatives involving local educational institutes.
Dave Atkins, manager of the GE Apprenticeship Programme at Hamble explained that the apprentices carry out rotations across different departments throughout their time with GE, enabling them to enhance their skills and continue development through a variation of tasks while experiencing different situations.
The completion of a rotation scheme also adds value to GE. By being skilled in a number of different areas, the individual is then able to help and meet the needs of the company.
Catherine Bearder, MEP for South East England, said: "I left school at 15 and understand learning is not all about school and university, and that learning on the job can be equally as important.
"Apprentices make companies more productive and give young people experience and skills they need. We must tackle youth unemployment and get our economy back on track and apprenticeships are a huge part of that."
Mike Thornton MP for Eastleigh said: "I'm extremely impressed by GE Aviation's ambition and commitment to training and skills. The firm's Apprenticeship Programme is an excellent example to all businesses about the value of apprentices, helping to bolster the economic recovery, and equipping young people with the skills they need to get on in life.
"Apprenticeships are a 'win-win' situation for young people, the local economy and employers."
GE at Hamble currently employs 32 apprentices. Over the last five years there have been 56, of which 18 have progressed onto skilled status in a variety of different departments. This has helped lower the age demographic of staff at Hamble.
Off the job training is conducted at Fareham College, foundation learning of key basic skills and taking the students through Btec National Certificate (Aeronautical Engineering), NVQ2(Engineering Operations) & NVQ3 (Aeronautical Engineering).
"It is great to see apprenticeships thriving again and to see GE playing its part. I went through a similar technical apprenticeship and followed a day release college education eventually up to degree level and my personal view is that, whilst a University route has its merits, an apprenticeship route can be equally beneficial for both the individual and the company offering the opportunity," said Simon Randell, product leader at GE Aviation Hamble.
Mark Howard, divisional area director for the National Apprenticeship Service, Southern said: "Apprentices have a major part to play in the future of our local economy and the skills they bring can help businesses to develop, be successful and grow.
"I was delighted that Catherine Bearder MEP and Mike Thornton MP were able to visit GE Aviation and be shown first-hand the impact that hiring apprentices can have on a business, it highlighted that Apprenticeships deliver a motivated, skilled and qualified workforce."
GE Aviation at Hamble also supports the initiatives driven through CEMAST (Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Advanced Skills Training).
Since August 2012, GE has been assisting Fareham College in conjunction with a number of partners that include the Homes and Communities Agency, County and Borough Councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership to produce a Centre of Excellence for land, sea and air manufacturing, including new technologies.
Discussions have been on going with reference to the curriculum planned for when the Centre opens. The vision is to produce a Centre of Excellence that supplies apprentices to local employers, and to continue providing outstanding training to these students.
GE promotes a strong Intern Programme and at Hamble there will be 26 new interns in 2013-2014, (160 across GE Aviation UK) who are placed across a range of business functions. They also develop a talent pipeline with 8 interns currently now on Leadership Programmes, the focus being on career development and engagement.
The Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) programme inspires young people, aged 5-19 and Hamble currently have 18 registered STEM ambassadors onsite, with events being organised throughout the year to support local schools and colleges.