South Yorkshire school children have been learning from heavy engineering experts DavyMarkham, in an event which taps into the government’s apprenticeships initiative.

Sixty pupils aged between 13 and 18 from a number of South Yorkshire secondary schools and colleges attended the ‘Pathways into Engineering’ event at the Knowledge Transfer Centre at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).

The event, organised by educational charity the Engineering Development Trust (EDT), showcased careers in engineering. Speakers and exhibitors encouraged the youngsters to consider various routes into the profession, an aim supported by the government’s strategy to increase the number of apprenticeships available across the country.

Government plans include 24 new university technology colleges for those aged 19 to 24 and a £1,500 incentive payment for smaller businesses looking to take on apprentices.

DavyMarkham’s marketing executive Nicola Radford said, "DavyMarkham is proud to be playing a key role in increasing the number of apprenticeships in the UK.

"Apprenticeship schemes offer young people one route into engineering, allowing them to earn money and valuable work experience while continuing their education. DavyMarkham continues to look at ways we can use our expertise to inspire the next generation."

The National Audit Office claims that every £1 of public investment spent on apprenticeships returns £18 to the wider economy. The Labour party in Sheffield has recognised the potential of apprenticeships, pledging £500,000 to fund an additional 100 apprenticeships in the city.

Nicola added, "Apprenticeships offered by South Yorkshire companies have hugely aided the UK’s economic recovery and play a key role in employment in the region."

According to figures from the independently managed Data Service, 457,200 apprenticeships were started during the 2010/11 academic year, a rise of 63.5% on 2009/10. 77.3% of apprenticeships started in engineering and manufacturing technologies are successfully completed.

Pupils were given a tour of the AMRC, which recently secured £20.5m of government funding to take on around 200 apprentices every year, and then had the opportunity to network with exhibitors and learn more about their industries and sectors.

EDT’s Debbie Wheeler said, "It was great for pupils to learn more about the diverse pathways into engineering and to inspire them to pursue careers in this sector. We were delighted to have so many companies and education and training providers exhibit at our event, including DavyMarkham.

"In fact, whilst the event at the AMRC was underway, DavyMarkham was simultaneously hosting an EDT Open Industry educational visit for pupils from Bradfield School, so it has made a very significant contribution for which we are grateful."

DavyMarkham spends approximately £100,000 on its apprenticeships, which lead to the award of BTEC National Diplomas and other vocational qualifications, and last between three and four years. Roles include mechanical and electrical maintenance, fabrication and welding, machine shop and production fitting.

Other exhibitors at the Pathways into Engineering event included Sheffield Forgemasters, Firth Rixson, Newburgh Engineering, Symmetry Medical, Brinsworth Training, Sheffield UTC, Sheffield College, The University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.
Presentations were given by the AMRC’s Denzil Lawrence, Newburgh Engineering’s David Greenan, and Anthony Knowles from the National Apprenticeship Service.

EDT was able to provide Pathways into Engineering with no charge to schools and pupils thanks to funding from The Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust and Sheffield Town Trust.