In the latest article from our Gloucestershire Apprenticeship campaign, championing the many businesses and training providers in the county committed to apprenticeships, we meet expert aviation parts manufacturer Ontic – a county engineering firm with a figure business of £70 million.
Ontic keeps “legacy aircraft” – civil and military, of all shapes and sizes – running, producing the spare parts each aircraft needs as part of its portfolio of 6,500 products and 1,000,000 components.
And as Diane Paul, recruitment manager at Bishop’s Cleeve, explains, this is still possible because the company continues to produce another essential element as well: qualified apprentices.
Meet the sponsors
Renishaw is a globally successful engineering company founded in 1973 by two former Rolls Royce engineering apprentices, and took on its first apprentices in 1979. Today the company has a turnover of over £500 million sterling per year and works in a wide variety of industries including automotive and healthcare. Renishaw continues to be dedicated to learning at all levels.
Gloucestershire College helping over 700 Gloucestershire apprentices each year to qualify in areas ranging from catering to IT, the college has strong relationships with businesses of all sizes to understand what they need and to help students succeed their career.
Gloucestershire Engineering Education was founded in 1977 by a partnership of county businesses, it provides apprenticeship training to the best and most innovative engineering companies in the county and continues to support apprenticeships as a pathway to work and career development.
the University of Gloucestershire is an integral part of the economy of the department and has forged strong links with companies through its training, its business school and its participation in the Growth Hub network and by introducing new opportunities for higher learning.
Those involved in aeronautical engineering know how important Ontic is, but for those who don’t, can you briefly explain why aircraft operators around the world seek out the Gloucestershire company?
Our customers include Boeing, Airbus and then Tier 1 suppliers. We work with military and civil aviation companies. If there is an aircraft flying, no matter how old it is, we can support that platform. We have manufactured parts for Harrier Jets, Red Arrows and B52 aircraft.
We are not changing aviation, we are 15 years behind. But when progress is made and manufacturing moves on to the next big thing, these planes will still fly and they will still need parts. This is where Ontic comes into its own.
How important is learning to ensure that the company can continue to produce these specialized parts for many years to come?
We have always had apprentices in the company. Our emerging talent is an extremely important part of our workforce and our business strategy.
We need to make sure that new talent is constantly emerging.
We will be taking on apprentices in 2022 and I am very confident that this is a program that will start this month (January).
Can you explain a bit more how Ontic uses learnings to help staff grow?
It is essential that we continue to help our people develop their careers and skills. When apprentices complete level 2, we let them know that we will also support them up to level 3.
We work with Gloucestershire Engineering Training. And then we will accompany them through the HNC (Higher National Certificate – professional level 4 diploma) and the HND (level 5 diploma – equivalent to the second year of license) and if possible will contribute to accelerate this learning, with the right support. , to help them finish faster.
Some of our apprentices continued their studies and are still with the company today.
Our VP of Operations, Mark McDonald, started as an apprentice. He always says that it was his apprenticeship that did the most for his career.
Ontic puts a lot of effort into the process of recruiting potential staff. Can you explain why?
Many people have heard of Ontic, but don’t know what we do. But when they start to learn more about the company, they realize there’s so much to what we do.
In 2021, we wanted to be ahead of the market. We decided it was essential to try and give every potential new beginner some face-to-face experience and a chance to demonstrate their abilities, despite the covid restrictions.
We wanted to offer open days, site visits, the ability to talk to existing apprentices and do a hands-on, comprehensive interview. We have tried to provide them with as normal an experience as possible.
We want to make sure we have the right people, but to give them every opportunity to succeed and realize that if they choose Ontic, we will take care of them.
Does this approach work?
What we find is that when people have come to Ontic, see what we do and learn more about us, they really want to work for us. I think that says a lot about us.
How many Ontic apprentices does it currently have?
In 2021, we took on three apprentices, we already had two apprentices on board who were finishing their level two. So we have five apprentices in all.
We also acquired Triumph Group in Staverton in October 2021, with 90 new employees joining the business as part of this, three of whom were apprentices. We have supported them and make sure they complete and qualify.
Do you only hire young beginners?
We have no age limit and welcome all applicants and support everyone on their journey to ensure we have the best talent working for Ontic.
For more information, visit ontic.com.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2022