A Yorkshire-headquartered high-voltage electrical engineering firm has pledged to address the industry’s skills gap, by launching a new apprenticeship scheme – and is in the process of enrolling its first four candidates.

Smith Brothers will provide vital hands-on experience to the quartet of trainees, which will be dovetailed by a two-year City & Guilds academic course and three years with Utility and Construction Training (UCT).

The candidates include 19-year-old apprentice HV jointer Michael McNeill – who has been working on cable pulling and HV fault work for the past 12 months – as well as a trio of trainee fitters, including Rory Sharp (18), Cameron Galbraith (19), and Bronson Taylor (17), the latter of whom worked as a trainee fitter for Smith Brothers during the pandemic.

Upon the successful completion of their qualifications, each candidate will be given the opportunity to join the team on a permanent basis. “We want to offer people a job for life,” explained Dave Ogden, managing director of Smith Brothers.

“As an employer, it’s our responsibility to support the ambitions of those in our sector and region, and if you qualify as a jointer or fitter, you have a ready-made, lifelong career – anywhere in the world. It’s important that we do our bit in addressing the skills gap when it comes to fostering the brightest and best in engineering talent.”

The annual apprenticeship scheme is not solely reserved for school-leavers though, as Dave continued: “We take apprentices of all ages because we believe that everyone deserves a chance. Some of the best engineers left school and went straight into a labouring job, but years later, they might be keen to back up that practical experience with a formal qualification.”

As well as nurturing practical skills, the senior management team at Smith Brothers places an equal amount of emphasis on creating a positive culture and is proud of its high level of staff retention. Dave concluded: “20% of our workforce has been with us for over 10 years – and our success isn’t just down to the management, it’s testament to all our personnel and the skill, talent, and effort these people bring, and have invested, into the business.”

As part of the programme, trainees will spend one month per year at the training centre, 9-10 months on site with Smith Brothers, and the remaining time focused on completing the City and Guilds academic requirements.