AJ Engineering is embracing Scottish Apprenticeship Week

AJ Engineering is embracing Scottish Apprenticeship Week which kicked off on Monday.  We’ve got lots going on with two of our apprentices taking part in Facebook Live events with Developing the Young Workforce through in Elgin. They made short films which will be aired as part of the week.

Alan James, owner of AJ Engineering, is no stranger to apprenticeships, starting AJ Engineering from scratch in 1998 after serving his time as an apprentice with William Reid Engineering Ltd of Forres.

Whilst Alan who is Forres born and bred wholly supports Modern Apprenticeships, he finds it fascinating there has been an apparent resurgence in their popularity as in his industry it has always been standard to employ apprentices.

He said: “I was an apprentice myself and it seems that out there in the wider world it has been reinvented whereas at AJ Engineering it has always been the case that we have had apprentices.

“Don’t get me wrong whatever the reason for apprentices now being so fashionable, I fully support it, apprentices are the lifeblood of our company, but for AJ Engineering it is nothing new.”

AJ Engineering currently employs 11 apprentices between its Forres depot and its sister company NEWCO based in Fort William.

“Every year we take on new apprentices. We take on at least two each year, but last year due to an increasing workload employed three and we expect that will be the same this year. The reassuring thing for us is the amount of good quality applicants we get. Last year there were around 60 applications for three places and it was very difficult to whittle them down as they were all top class applications. That is reassuring for our industry and more personally for the future of AJ Engineering. That said, we are very careful about who we pick. We don’t always opt for the person who has the best grades, for us they have to show that they are open to new ideas, have an aptitude for learning and have a practical ability. We want our apprentices to have more about them than just grades.”

One of the reasons that AJ Engineering is so supportive of apprenticeship schemes is that often it means they retain staff which they have been able to mould and influence in to the type of workers they need.

“We get these young employees coming in and they are keen and eager and because they are earning and learning at the same time with a mix of college work and on the job training. In our line of work, there is nothing like learning on the job. We take the time to work with our apprentices to get the best out of them. We also work on such a varied amount of projects that the apprentices get to test their skills. None of it is repeat work, it uses their skills and they get variety. We also make it clear that the apprentices can progress through the company. As someone invested in apprentices, that is the goal, that you take someone on in their late teens early twenties and they work their way up through the business. It’s because of this mix that I believe we have such a strong retention rate. I find it strange that some companies let them go. We rarely lose an apprentice, they respect the time we have put into them and they soon learn that they will get job satisfaction and security.

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