Supporting the apprentice and employer through the whole journey from recruitment to the successful completion, Engineering Trust Training, have built a reputation for promoting and delivering high quality apprenticeships and training on behalf of their partner businesses. CEO, Mark Vingoe, gives us the low down on the business and how they aim to increase the number of skilled engineers and technicians within the county. “The business goes back about thirty years and was started by several engineering companies as a membership organisation. Over the years it transitioned into a charity and training company. The Engineering Trust, which is the charity, works in schools to promote engineering as a career and apprenticeships as a pathway. Then, Engineering Trust Training (ETT), is an apprenticeship training provider. We have about 180 apprentices working in engineering, manufacturing and maintenance, in Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties.
It’s been an exciting time for us, as we have recently opened a new training academy in Bicester, called The Engineering Skills Academy (TESA). This is where we deliver all the apprentice training ourselves and also plan to offer training courses for local businesses, with the aim to help solve the shortage of engineers and technicians that the sector currently faces. We are in a really exciting phase in the business and OxLEP Business have played a key role in getting us here.
Mark tells us how he got involved with OxLEP and why they appealed so much to him. “As soon as I started my role here I wanted to get more involved in the work OxLEP does. They were really appealing because, not only do they offer business support and funding, but they have a skills team which works with a lot of schools in terms of their career provision.
The first OxLEP programme I got involved with was during lockdown, taking advantage of the one-to-one business coaching. This was great for me having started my role just prior to Covid and the coaching was a great source of support on how to lead a company during lockdown. It was also really handy to have people within Oxfordshire to talk to about what the employment and training landscape was like. They also put me in touch with someone who had many years working in the engineering sector. This led to really valuable inputs. Things like refining our approach and engagement with the companies we wanted to work with during a time when employing new staff as apprentices was not a priority. This guidance saw us through that very challenging period.
Alongside the one-to-one mentoring, I also signed up for OxLEP’s Peer Networks programme. Being part of these opened loads of connections to other businesses. It was again useful to be able to talk to other businesses and find out what they are doing and how they were approaching dealing with the pandemic. The peer network meetings were good in a more general sense as it is reassuring to know that others are going through the same problems and concerns as you, plus having a group to bounce ideas and problems off was very beneficial.”
"I’m a big fan of OxLEP. Across everything they do, they actually make a difference in terms of bringing business, education and skills training sectors closer together."
Mark elaborates on how important his relationship with OxLEP has been on his business journey “I’m a big fan of OxLEP. Across everything they do, they actually make a difference in terms of bringing business, education and skills training sectors closer together. There is no doubt that having an organisation like that is a really good conduit, not only helping sectors work better together but also to help people navigate the sometimes, confusing, training landscape. Not only have they given me tonnes of support, they’ve also signposted me to valuable resources. They have also signposted engineering companies to us who are looking for apprentices, which has been helpful with our business development. Without OxLEP doing what they do, I think our schools, training and business sectors would be really disjointed.”
ETT recently opened a 7000sqft training facility in Bicester, renovating an existing property and turning it into TESA. With the support of Cherwell District Council’s Business Adaptation Fund (CBAF) delivered by OxLEP Business, they were able to implement a brand new IT suite. Mark tells us of his experience with the grant process “We were (and are still) looking at lots of different ways to fundraise for TESA and then OxLEP signposted us to the CBAF grant fund. We were eligible, we applied, and we were successful. OxLEP were great throughout the process, always responsive and helpful if I had any questions. The financial support massively accelerated the development of a new IT suite at TESA, which has allowed us deliver CAD training to our apprentices and will allow us to run short courses and training. We were keen to expand our offering and use the academy for the wider good of the community. And with the new IT set up we are able to offer local people and businesses training courses.
“Next steps for us, well it’s very very busy. There are so many companies in Oxfordshire crying out for skilled staff and apprenticeships are a key way to meet this demand. I think we are all agreed there currently are not enough people to meet the employment demand, and we see the work we are doing as really important in solving this, increasing the amount of apprentices and other people being trained and gaining skills in Oxfordshire.”
Mark continues “Our future plans are to offer more solutions to what the industry here in Oxfordshire needs, which is a mix of apprenticeships and shorter sharper training opportunities, to every age group, to get people into that workforce. We continue to develop TESA, working with local businesses like EP Barrus who came on board as a funding partner last year. And we are also keen to continue to work with OxLEP, feeding into the initiatives and helping to build an effective workforce for Oxfordshire. OxLEP are effective at what they do and are a force for good in the county. And, it’s all free as well. From my point of view, you can’t knock it when brilliant business support is offered to you for no fee at all.”