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From little acorns big trees grow!
08 June 2021

Giving the very best opportunities to the next generation of the UK’s workforce has always been at the heart of the “apprenticeship/on the job training” ideal that has taken many forms in the past.  All sorts of schemes have been successful whether they are designed for the school leaver, the graduate or even the career-changer.  And we are proud to have been involved in helping young people find their feet after schooldays – for over 40 years!

Here at West Fraser, we have a proud history of investing in our workforce and a commitment to providing employment and training opportunities for young people is an integral part of this ethos.  For over 40 years, West Fraser has been giving local 16+ year old school leavers the opportunity to complete apprenticeships at West Fraser’s Inverness, Cowie and South Molton sites.

The new starters enjoy on-the-job training combined with day release to a local college; win win to learn the ropes!  In our case, apprentices train for mechanical and electrical engineering roles.

At Cowie as an example, the young apprentices complete a 26-week programme of intensive hands-on practical training at MetTECH in Grangemouth.  This is designed to give them solid broad-based engineering skills in preparation to embark on planned periods of on-the-job training with us. The apprentices also attend Forth Valley College one day per week to complete a National Certificate (NC) in mechanical or electrical engineering before going on to gaining their HNC in third and fourth years.

Gordon McArthur, Engineering Manager at Cowie, recognises the value of the apprenticeship programme, having started in the company as an apprentice, and now oversees the latest talented recruits.   “The programme has served us incredibly well over the years” said Gordon.  “Apprentices who have come through the system now make up over 50% of the maintenance/engineering workforce and many go on to supervisory roles.  In fact, three of our four maintenance supervisors at Cowie served their apprenticeships here”. Gordon explained that the programme provides the opportunity to train apprentices to work with confidence on the complex systems and processes on site and is the ideal answer to the challenge of recruiting staff with the exacting skill set and experience required in such a specialist industry.  For Gordon “the best part of the programme is seeing the change in the apprentices as they grow in confidence and skill level over the four years”.

Inverness also started nine new apprentices in November.

After completing the four-year apprenticeship and obtaining satisfactory examination results, the majority are employed on permanent contracts. 

For further information on the apprenticeships on offer at West Fraser, please contact:
Cowie: ashley.mitchell@norbord.net
Inverness: niki.cole@norbord.net
South Molton: tess.cleaver@norbord.net

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