The Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills visited Ayrshire College in July to launch year two of the Flexible Workforce Development Fund. Some of the employers who are taking advantage of the FWDF through the college to develop their workforce came along to share their experiences with the minister. One of these companies is Prestwick-based GE Caledonian, an aeronautical engine overhaul facility providing services for aviation engines and components as well as avionics, electrical power and mechanical systems for aircraft.
GE has worked with Ayrshire College for many years, a relationship which continues to improve with age. As well as taking advantage of the FWDF to train employees, the company has a long track record in developing its workforce through apprenticeships.
Central to the GE approach is Apprentice Leader, Stephen McNab who has grown and extended his apprenticeship family in the past two years to include foundation and graduate apprentices. He brought some of the GE family along to meet the minister – Aiden McIntyre, Aircraft Engine Mechanic, who completed his apprenticeship last year; Tracy Govan who is in the fourth and final year of her apprenticeship; and Fraser Wallace who has just completed his engineering foundation apprenticeship at Ayrshire College.
Thirteen new modern apprentices joined the GE family recently – all recruited from the college’s engineering students. They include Fraser Wallace who completed his engineering foundation apprenticeship in June. Fraser did his work experience with GE and they were so impressed with him that they offered him a contract a year ago! While Fraser could have started his modern apprenticeship with the company last summer, GE demonstrated their commitment to the foundation apprenticeship by encouraging him to complete it in his sixth and final year at school. Fraser is going straight into the second year of the modern apprenticeship because of the skills he developed over the past two years on the foundation apprenticeship.
Tracy Govan is in the fourth and final year of her apprenticeship at GE. Tracy worked in a supermarket for eleven years, before a change in company structure forced her to consider what she wanted to do. She decided to change her career and do something completely different. Tracy had always liked being hands-on and learning new things, so she went back to college to do the Performing Engineering Operations course. And, because of the skills she developed at college, she was recruited by GE straight into the second year of a modern apprenticeship!
For GE, it’s not just about the apprenticeship family. GE helps to bring learning to life for our full-time students by arranging for them to see leading edge technology in action in the workplace. They provide mentors for the college’s STEM activity with schools, for example at our Mission Discovery space school programme with senior phase students. And, they are great supporters of our This Ayrshire Girl Can campaign.
Stephen and Gordon, I salute you!
It has been an honour, a pleasure and a great laugh working with you and your colleagues over the last few years, and I look forward to watching your GE family grow from strength to strength.