The company, a specialist in cold forming and CNC machining, already has nine apprentices and will add up to four more this summer.

The recruitment process will start at a company open day in February. After this, candidates will go through a challenging interview process, and a test. The most promising are invited back for a week’s work experience – with the top three or four being taken on permanently.

Ken Toop, senior process development engineer at Dawson Shanahan, says: “It encourages local schools to see us as a preferred employer. It’s a good way to promote engineering in the area and it helps us source the various skills that will further enhance our operations.”

In their first year, apprentices spend three days a week at college; in their second year this drops to one day, as they spend more time in different departments and in the company’s training school learning key theory – including engineering drawing – and technical skills such as ‘speeds and feeds’.

The training school is a separate area within the factory dedicated to apprentice training. As well as having classroom facilities, it includes a range of equipment including a new CNC wire-eroding machine. In future, the school will also be used to help existing staff members improve their skills, says Toop.

The apprenticeship scheme has already produced two ‘time-served’ apprentices, who now work full-time in the toolroom.

“We’re looking for all-rounders,” says Toop. “People who can solve problems, but are also computer-literate and able to program. Anyone who would like to learn more about our scheme and our upcoming open day can learn more on the Dawson Shanahan website.”