Sparrows Group has invested in six new apprentices from the Aberdeen area at its UK headquarters in the city’s Bridge of Don, underpinning its commitment to the next generation. The individuals have joined several disciplines within the company, including business, technical and workshop roles bringing the total number of apprentices to 27 currently.
Adrian Begbie previously completed a National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering at North East Scotland College (NESCol) and has started as an apprentice machinist; Jack Donald is working as facilities services apprentice and was at Westhill Academy; learning to become a technical coordinator is Jacob Drummond, from Bucksburn Academy; Josh McDonald went to school at Hazelhead and is now an apprentice fabricator; Lucas Murray is a novice hydraulic technician and attended Oldmachar Academy; and Alec-Jon Johnston is apprentice draughtsperson from Fraserburgh Academy.
As part of the modern apprentice scheme the trainees will gain practical work experience in addition to studying towards a Higher National Certificate (HNC) and SVQ level three in a chosen discipline. Sparrows works closely with Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and Aberdeen’s NESCol to ensure a structured approach to its work-based training.
Apprentice Jacob Drummond says, “It’s a great opportunity to join a company like Sparrows as an apprentice. The biggest benefit of the programme is I can now work and learn on the job, while still getting industry recognised qualifications. The hands-on experience allows me to put the skills I’ve learned in the classroom into practice in a real-life working environment, alongside the experienced team at Sparrows.”
Sparrows has remained committed to ensuring a steady stream of young professionals come into the business through apprenticeships and supports women into STEM roles with apprenticeships undertaken in recent years in design, hydraulics and mechanics. The company also invests in upskilling its existing personnel – over the past five years, 64 workers have undertaken apprenticeships.
As well as the modern apprenticeships, the business runs two additional training programmes. Foundation apprenticeships were introduced last year. They offer S5 and S6 pupils the chance to combine their time at school with an employer and a college or training company with the incentive of a qualification at the same level as a Higher on completion.
The other scheme is the Graduate Apprenticeships (GA), created in partnership with industry and higher education institutions to allow employees to work towards an honours degree level. Sparrows was one of the first in Scotland to sign up for the GA programme in 2017.
Several of the firm’s senior managers started at the company as apprentices, including chief technology officer Ewen Kerr; Stuart Smith, head of design and technology and Dave Buckham, business manager.
Stewart Mitchell, Sparrows Group chief executive officer comments, “Sparrows’ commitment to developing the next generation has been vital to the success of our operations for more than 40 years and we understand the long-term benefit they bring not just to our business, but to the wider industry.”
“Giving young people opportunities at the start of their careers and providing them with the core skills they require through on-the-job training with industry recognised qualifications provides a well-rounded experience. They gain a better understanding of our business methods and they are inheriting a vast wealth of knowledge from our existing expert team,” Mitchell adds.
Sparrows has plans to hire further modern apprentices in August this year and will be actively encouraging applications from women looking for a STEM career. A number of existing employees will also undertake graduate apprenticeships in the Autumn.