Name: Simon Cattell
Company: Mid-Kent Electrical Engineering
Simon Cattell Sales and Marketing Manager MKE

Simon Cattell is the Sales and Marketing Manager for Mid Kent Electrical Engineering, a Levy employer. MKE started in 1955 as a family run business repairing electric motors. The company has grown to become the largest independent engineering organisation of its kind in the South East, employing over 100 people with an annual turnover exceeding £8million. IPS have worked with MKE for numerous years delivering apprenticeships.

“2 years ago I was the Mechanical Manager at MKE and oversaw all of the apprentices. As a business, we are committed to employing a minimum 10% of our workforce as apprentices.

Apprenticeships stabilise our workforce, we have had apprentices for over 14 years now, and it has contributed towards the success of the business. We now have managers and supervisors who were once apprentices. For example, Darren an employee at MKE has taken over as Mechanical Manager, running 25% of the business and he originally completed an apprenticeship, then went on to progress to an HNC and a degree. The director here is very passionate about allowing people to achieve their full potential. I have also achieved a degree whilst working at MKE.  We have found apprenticeships to be a very successful method of training employees up to the standard we require them to be and to also be trained in all aspects of their job role. Most of our apprentices stay in full-time employment within the business, but even the ones who have moved on have then moved into a higher skill level job role, or have started their own business.

As you may know, there is a major skills shortage in our sector where the industry hasn’t recruited for several years. 10% of our workforce will be retiring in the next five years and we currently have a programme in place where we allow the guys who reach retirement age to come into the workshop and mentor the younger staff, passing on their skills and knowledge, which works well for our apprentices as they gain expertise and training in the way MKE operate. We now have 15 apprentices at various stages in their training and have just applied for five additional apprentices this year. We have apprentices in all areas of our business, not just engineering trainees in the workshop, but also quality control and within the accounts department.  We also utilise our levy funds for upskilling our existing team members and offering further opportunities for staff development. ”

MKE is a levied employer, which means they have an annual pay bill of more than £3 million.  Levied employers pay the apprenticeship Levy to HMRC through their payroll, monthly. The Apprenticeship Levy paid by large organisations, can only be accessed to fund apprenticeship training.

“Managing our levy is a simple process for us, and we usually spend more than what we put in. IPS have helped us fully understand how it works and how it’s set up.   We have had meetings with an IPS employer engagement consultant to gain guidance on the best way to utilise our funds. We have three ways that we use our funds, new unskilled apprentices, upskilling more mature trainees who may be labourers wanting to develop within engineering and upskilling current skilled employee’s.

We have worked with IPS for over 12 years as part of the Kent Engineering Manufacturing Guild and have used them to deliver professional, certificated apprenticeships. We work well as a partnership, identifying the needs and requirements within our business.  Communication is vital, and we have regular update meetings.  We recently had a situation where IPS informed us that an apprentice was struggling, we sat down together and provided the support the apprentice needed from both parties. We also use IPS’ complimentary recruitment service which helps ensure we get the best candidates for the roles we advertise.  We make sure we choose a variety of personalities when recruiting which helps creates a diverse workforce. I would recommend IPS to other employers.

The value of an apprentice in our business is immense, with the intense training an apprenticeship provides, our workforce is very able and advanced. I visited a site recently and witnessed a previous apprentice, only one year out of his apprenticeship, scoping an installation for a conveyor belt.  This kind of work we deem quite as high skills level and our previous apprentice proved his capability in the task.

Apprenticeships are essential to the business, not only to improve the skillset of the workforce but to ensure our stainability as a service provider to the industry.

IPS can help your business recruit and train an apprentice. Interested?