Record number of young engineers

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AN ARBROATH based vocational training group is gearing up for a bumper crop of new apprentices this year.

Angus Training Group Ltd., Catherine Street, trains apprentices on behalf of companies in various sectors of the engineering industry.

The institution, which was founded in 1966 and originally stood on Burnside Drive, is already set to take on 54 apprentices this year, but could also see this number rise.

Director Alan Swankie believes there is a shift in focus toward young people choosing vocations over degrees.

He explained: “More and more students are shying away from universities because of increased demand from employers.”

Just four years ago, at the peak of the recession apprentice numbers were drastically reduced to around 16, but have been growing steadily ever since.

ATG Ltd., moved to the new site at Catherine Street in 1978, and the training workshop has teaching facilities for around 70 apprentices in welding, machining and fitting among other engineering disciplines.

Alan credits the rise in apprentice numbers to a combination of a recovering engineering industry and an ageing workforce.

He said: “I think a lot of employers think this is the way forward. There’s just not the staff out there with retirals and age gaps. They just can’t get the work force any other way.”

Around 50 member companies use the pool of apprentices at Angus Training Group, among them engineering industry leaders such as Halliburton, GE Engineering, John M. Henderson and Co., and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in Montrose.

Connor Young (18) is a first year apprentice with GSK. He said: “I’m getting on well with everything, I’m definitely confident about the future.

“Doing this kind of engineering, that’s what I have always wanted to do.”

Alan added: “We survive with the quality we put out there. We train our apprentices to a much higher standard than we are required to do, because that’s what employers demand.

“We work out our courses with our employers, at the end of the day they are paying to get training tailored as close as possible to what they are looking for.”

There could also be a knock on effect as demand for apprentices grows, Alan explained: “The way things are going I’m 99 per cent confident we will be recruiting another member of staff very shortly.”

The company has also made a point of fostering close relations with local schools to ensure a constant stream of applications for places.

They often give talks on career options in the engineering industry or have stalls at careers fairs.

Applicants are put through a series of tests and interviews to gauge their suitability.

Alan continued: “We then put them into our pool for the summer intake and invite employers to see this intake and choose from there.

“We’ve already got 120 applications for this year and will probably get quite a lot more than that.”

For more information or an application form call 01241 873299 or visit