By Ian Mean

TEN years ago I was privileged to speak at the apprenticeship awards for BorgWarner at Stonehouse, one of Gloucestershire’s premier engineering companies and a leader in supplying the world’s major names in automotive and truck engine manufacturers.

I was recently asked to go back to talk at those same awards at Kingsholm.

It was frankly inspiring and a brilliant mirror on how a local company with a worldwide reputation continues to grow its own talent.

In fact, seven out of the original nine winners ten years ago when it was known at Delphi Technologies, are still in the business.

I was particularly impressed by the story of one of those original apprentices-Kenny Collins. He was the first winner of the David Friday award when he was 19.

Here is a young man, who by his own admission got Ds and Es in his GCSE exams.

But look at him now as Indirect Plant Purchasing Manager with a string of engineering awards to his name.

To me, Kenny epitomises the role of the apprentice-grasping his opportunity and working hard to the point where he achieved a Masters degree in mechanical engineering.

Training is in the DNA of BorgWarner. They invest in skills that come from the development of their apprentices who are an integral part of a great engineering success story.

And the proof of that success is that 100 per cent of what the BorgWarner teams produce at Stonehouse is exported.

What a story of growth, and government please note. It is all very well talking about growth but you have to produce it.

I do believe this is the age of the apprentice. University, in my view, is not the be all and end all.

King Charles put it very eloquently during a special edition of the Repair Shop for the BBC’s centenary when he said “not everyone is designed for the academic” route.

He labelled the lack of vocational edition in schools a “great tragedy”.

King Charles is right. Government must address this issue and also give more support to apprenticeships.