Developing Tomorrow’s Engineers

Engineering sectors are hugely important to the UK economy, employing over five million people and accounting for almost a fifth of total UK employment. In a rapidly evolving world shaped by technological advances and digital connectivity, the need for an agile and skilled engineering workforce is greater than ever. Tomorrow’s engineers will need to keep abreast of industry developments and have a broad range of technical and non-technical skills to enable the UK to compete globally.

Apprenticeships can help to address skills gaps at all levels, and the Level 4 Engineering Manufacturing Technician apprenticeship is a higher-level qualification that develops occupational competence to enable employees to provide specialist technical support for other engineers across the organisation.

It’s an ideal career development opportunity for junior engineers. It supports employees to learn new ways of maintaining robust standards, and to identify and implement improvements. This helps to drive the capacity of an organisation to ensure the quality, safety and timely delivery of manufactured products and services.

Matthew Sibbons is an apprenticeship development coach with Innovion and has been involved in the programme design for the level 4 Engineering Manufacturing Technician apprenticeship. Following a 22-year career as an aeronautical engineer in the Royal Air Force (RAF), and a number of years spent training other technicians, Matthew feels that the apprenticeship provides a unique opportunity for businesses to strengthen their skills base and develop a new generation of engineering talent.

We interviewed Matthew to find out what the level 4 apprenticeship entails and how it can help to meet current and future industry needs.

What makes this apprenticeship such a great development opportunity?

“Working as an engineer in the RAF gave me a great insight into the industry’s ever-changing skills needs. Now more than ever, technical skills need to be regularly updated and expertise shared.

“The level 4 Engineering Manufacturing Technician apprenticeship is equivalent to the first year of a degree, so it really builds on the existing technical skills a learner will have. But it goes beyond this in terms of upskilling employees and preparing them for a future shaped by increased digitisation, automation and the Internet of Things.

“In addition to the higher-level technical skills that all engineering businesses will need in order to navigate the Fourth Industrial Revolution, learners gain a range of vital ‘soft’ skills that can support business productivity – from research, communication and project management skills to understanding cost and time implications and effective stakeholder management.

“With funding available through the apprenticeship levy, it’s a great opportunity to invest in new or existing engineers in order to strengthen your organisation’s skills base.”

How will Innovion’s programme be delivered?

“Apprenticeships can be extremely flexible – there are no set times for learning or a requirement for apprentices to attend college on day release. In fact, all of our programmes are designed using a blended learning model, which can include workshops and contact days at the employer’s workplace, alongside self-study and online sessions.

“As long as learners gain the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to meet the requirements of the apprenticeship standard, the programme can be tailored to specific organisational needs and apprentices’ work patterns.

“We’ve designed our delivery of the programme around eight key modules: engineering-related design, maths and science; managing a professional engineering project; mechanical principles; materials, properties and testing; production engineering for manufacture; and quality and process improvement.

“Through these eight modules, learners will gain the full range of knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to go through end-point assessment. Successful apprentices will also be able to apply for EngTech status.”

How does Innovion differ from other apprenticeship providers?

“Having worked in further education since leaving the RAF, it’s clear that standards can vary greatly across providers. Unless staff delivering apprenticeship training have up-to-date and relevant industry skills, it’s going to be difficult to engage and inspire the next generation of engineering talent.

“With a relentless focus on delivering high-quality technical training and the skills needed for future success, Innovion is well placed to deliver apprenticeship programmes that not only meet, but also aim to exceed employer expectations.

“Innovion works in partnership with industry to ensure that apprenticeship programmes are designed to be highly relevant to the occupations that are required to pump prime sector workforce needs. We encourage employers to join our industry council, giving them an important role in the planning and governance process at Innovion. Their experience and expertise help to shape programme design, leading to high standards across our apprenticeship provision and mutually beneficial outcomes.”

For more information about the Level 4 Engineering Manufacturing Technician apprenticeship, please visit our dedicated programme page.