Apprentices bring fresh thinking to Balmoral Tanks

Callum Cresswell and Jack Hayes wasted no time in making a big impression on their new employer, Balmoral Tanks.

The two AMRC Training Centre apprentices are not just talented fabricators and welders; their bright ideas are now helping improve the running of the firm’s £10m purpose-built factory in Thurnscoe.

The company, the world's largest single source designer and manufacturer of liquid storage and treatment products, is investing in its future by taking on four apprentices: Jacob Armitage and Jordan Oldham in technical support and Callum and Jack in fabrication and welding.

Jacob and Jordan are due to start work later this year but Callum and Jack are already in company. Between them, they have brought fresh thinking and new ideas into the workforce, some of which have been already put in place in the company’s manufacturing process.

Balmoral Tanks – which has global footprint spanning Europe, North and South America, the Middle and Far East –expanded its operations last year with the opening a £10m purpose-built factory in Thurnscoe with the support of Enterprising Barnsley.

The company, which also has a manufacturing base in South Wales, is always looking for ways to further improve the business. As well as investing in buildings, it knows the true value of investing in people.

That’s why, along with running an accredited Leadership Academy scheme to identify and prepare leaders for the future, it is a firm believer that apprenticeships are vital for success.

The company decided to work with the AMRC after visiting its state-of-the-art facilities at the training centre and Nicola Wagstaff, HR advisor at Balmoral Tanks, said it is already seeing rewards.

“Our two fabricator welder apprentices, Callum and Jack, have been working full time in the Thurnscoe facility for the last month and have already made an impact on our business,” she said.

“They have suggested new ideas learned during their block training periods at the AMRC Training Centre and weren’t afraid to put them forward. We have adopted several of these ideas, including a new holding area to improve control methodology.

“They are enthusiastic about all the tasks given to them and are not seen as apprentices that are undergoing training but as part of the wider team.

“We are delighted with the results to date and look forward to working further with AMRC to our mutual benefit.”

All four apprentices say it was a ‘no brainer’ when it came to choosing an apprenticeship. For Jacob, 18, of Sheffield, it offered an alternative to a traditional university education.

He said: “I tried doing A-Levels but I didn’t really like just doing classroom learning but with an apprenticeship there is a practical side to it. We cover lots of different stuff from computer-aided design, robotics, rapid prototyping, CNC programming, software packages – it’s really quite a broad pathway that sets you up for a skilled managerial role within a company.

“Before I started my apprenticeship I knew nothing about engineering but six months in and it’s unbelievable how much we have learned in such a short space of time.”

At 26, Jordan, of Barnsley, saw his apprenticeship as a chance to have a career rather than ‘just a job’. His goal is to become a chartered engineer.

He said: “I wanted to go to university but I didn’t really like school to be honest and being in a classroom all the time - I’m more of a hands-on person.  I also want a career rather than just a job and I’d wanted to be a civil engineer when I was younger so I just thought it’s now or never.

“To say you are only at the training centre for six months you learn a lot. I was quite sceptical at first so it surprised me how much you do pick up - that’s definitely down to the staff here though, and they teach much more than just the technical skills.

“Anyone in two minds about an apprenticeship, I would say to them it’s never too late - short term pain for long term gain.”

Fabrication and welding apprentice Jack, also from Barnsley, wanted to do something involving practical learning. The 17-year-old said his mind was made up about an engineering apprenticeship after attending an AMRC Training Centre open day.

“I was going to go to college but instead of having more classroom learning, I thought why not come and do something practical, change it up a bit.

“What’s been good is as soon as we got into the company we could hit the ground running and get on with it and start working.”

For fellow fabrication and welding apprentice Callum, 18, from Sheffield, an engineering apprenticeship meant taking a totally different direction but he has no regrets and is loving being part of the Balmoral Tanks’ workforce.

“As soon as I finished school I went to college for two years and studied sports but I didn’t really enjoy it and looked into apprenticeships. I liked the idea of doing something that would lead to a job and being educated at the same time. At first I didn’t even know what fabrication and welding was but now I know a fair bit and I’m really enjoying it.”

Apprentices bring fresh thinking to Balmoral Tanks

The Balmoral Tanks apprentices on the workshop floor at the AMRC Training Centre.

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