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3 minute read • published in partnership with KUKA

KUKA apprentice programme receives gold kitemark accreditation

KUKA UK has achieved a gold ‘Excellent Employer’ level for its employee apprenticeships, one of the first engineering & manufacturing companies in the UK to receive it. The engineering apprenticeships employer kitemark has been developed by NextGen Makers and Make UK to recognise companies who achieve a best practice benchmark, and endorse them as exemplary employers of apprentices.

A manufacturer of industrial robots and systems with a diverse apprenticeship offering, KUKA boasts a host of manufacturing and engineering skills in robotics and friction welding, and it says having a successful apprenticeship scheme is crucial to nurturing the future talent of its business. The skills developed in the apprenticeships fill gaps in knowledge and transfer those competencies from retirement-age colleagues to the younger generation, helping them to inherit new skills and bring new talent into the business.

KUKA UK has received gold kitemark accreditation for its employee apprenticeship programme / Picture: KUKA

David Rose (Quality Manager), Lee Jesic (Head of Product Development ) and Ian Marsh (Production Manager) have been instrumental in running the KUKA apprenticeship scheme and shared more on what it means to KUKA and its employees.

How does it feel to win the gold standard ‘Excellent Employer’ status for the Make UK engineering apprenticeships employer kitemark?

We are pleased! We are one of the first companies to receive the Make UK engineering apprenticeships: employer kitemark accreditation. The award recognises exemplar employers of engineering apprentices, and the accreditation process includes satisfaction surveys of existing engineering apprentices and benchmarking of the company’s apprenticeship scheme against industry best practices. We were invited to an awards dinner on 7th July to receive our award trophy and celebrate with representatives and apprentices from the other manufacturing companies who won the award.

How will this award/recognition impact KUKA’s brand perception externally?

This award will positively impact our employer brand and make us stand out as an employer of choice for young engineering talent. It also highlights our commitment to the future of apprentices.

How can apprenticeships such as those established at KUKA support manufacturing growth and help to bridge the skills gap?

Apprentices help to create a strong and growing economy while improving the prospects and earning potential of millions of employees. Therefore, apprentices can be moulded and immersed in company culture and receive the most up-to-date training to build their skills, eventually contributing to the growth of UK manufacturing. An apprentice will be a blank slate, so they should soak up all of the knowledge presented to them as this will be their first work environment experience. 

Picture: KUKA

How are the apprentices positively impacting KUKA?

Apprentices positively impact succession planning and pipeline development, and they bring energy and fresh ideas to the team. It can also be gratifying for the mentors of apprentices in terms of giving something back and sharing their knowledge with the next generation.  

How have you seen this year’s apprentices grow and develop?

We have seen them all grow significantly; they are all doing well at college, passing their BTEC and moving on to HNCs; one of our apprentices has now progressed to start a degree. A number have recently been part of Inspiring the Black Country program, where they presented to aspiring engineers at school looking at engineering as a career. Our apprentices have also returned to school to inspire the next generation—all fantastic ways to get young students thinking about engineering as a career.

How many apprentice places does KUKA usually take into the business each year?

We already have many apprentices working their way through our apprentice program. We did recruit two apprentices in Wednesbury last year, and next year’s numbers are to be decided. This will be dependent on our requirements and planning.

Knowledge transfer cannot be understated, and KUKA apprentices are in a unique position of importance because they are our future. We aim to encourage our future engineers to strive for innovation and learn skills being depleted from the workforce. To promote a thriving work environment and positively impact all business areas. The Gold ‘Excellent Employer status is an incredible achievement that we are proud of and coincides with the growth-centric employer we strive to be.