Recruiting the right skillset for experienced staff within a challenging industry has proven difficult in recent years for Dow Silicones UK Limited, but it has successfully turned to apprenticeships as the main pipeline for supplying its specialist workforce.
As one of the largest material science companies in the world, Dow has produced silicone intermediate products at its Barry facility since 1952, and it is nurturing the next generation of engineers through inclusive programmes that have been developed through 40 years of work-based learning.
Working closely with many learning providers, including Cardiff and the Vale College (CAVC), the company currently offers five pathways at Levels 2 and 3, and a further three pathways as Higher Apprenticeships, with 40 apprentices currently on site.
Now Dow has been shortlisted for the Large Employer of the Year award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2021.
This annual celebration of outstanding achievement in training and apprenticeships will see 35 finalists compete in 12 categories for awards. The winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on April 29.
Highlight of the work-based learning calendar, the awards showcase businesses and individuals who have excelled on the Welsh Government’s Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes and gone the extra mile to achieve success during these unprecedented times.
The awards are jointly organised by the Welsh Government and the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Openreach, the UK’s digital network business and passionate supporter of apprenticeships, has renewed its headline sponsorship of the awards.
The Apprenticeship Programme in Wales is funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
“Bringing apprentices with us on the journey of expansion allows us to prepare for development and growth, with the knowledge that we will have the workforce with the right skillset,” said Alex Laurie, Site Learning Leader.
The company’s close relationship with CAVC has developed an innovative Chemical Operator programme through shared knowledge, skills and experience as well as supporting the college with materials and a source of tutors.
Currently, Dow’s maintenance apprentice team is designing, building and delivering a working equipment process for CAVC to use as a learning aid on campus.
“We are now delivering a bespoke hand skills course which was developed through liaison with Dow,” said Stuart Woodward, CAVC’s delivery manager.
“It is essential that this example is shared across college as it ensures that what we are delivering meets the needs of Dow as a company and, of course, their training requirements over and above the core delivery.”
With 95% of its apprentices retained over the last 10 years, Dow has seen many move into supervisory and management positions. The company also offers Degree Apprenticeships in partnership with Trinity St David’s University and University of South Wales to those who wish to discover new career opportunities.
Minister for the Economy, Transport and North Wales, Ken Skates, said:
“Our Apprenticeship and Traineeship Programmes are helping people fulfil their career ambitions and I’m delighted we have already reached our target of creating 100,000 apprenticeships in this Senedd term.
“This has been key in helping apprentices of all ages to gain important skills and experience that we know businesses across all sectors of the economy in Wales really need. This will be vital as we emerge from the pandemic.
“Apprenticeship Awards Cymru provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate and showcase the achievements of all involved, from star apprentices to skilled learning providers.
“I’d like to congratulate all the finalists announced for this year's event and wish each and every one all the best for the future.”