Dundee’s biggest current industrial success story would not have been possible without apprentices.
That’s the opinion of John Reid, manager of the city’s Michelin factory which has a workforce of around 850 and puts £45 million a year into the local economy.
It is one of the French-owned tyre-maker’s key European production sites and is undergoing a £53m investment.
Mr Reid said apprentices played a vital role in the factory achieving its lofty status, and it is a contribution they will continue to make.
He was speaking at the start of Scottish Apprenticeship Week, organised by Scottish Government’s skills body Skills Development Scotland (SDS) to promote apprenticeships.
The remit of SDS is to help create a skilled workforce that’s ready to face the future by encouraging employers to support and young people to enlist for validated on-the-job training programmes.
Apprenticeships are designed to tackle skills gaps, help new or existing employees to develop and pave the way for young people to have long and fulfilling careers.
SDS works closely with Scotland’s industries to make sure apprenticeships meet their needs.
Scotland presently has more than 37,000 young people working, learning and earning as Modern Apprentices.
Mr Reid said that in 44 years Michelin has put in the region of 500 engineering apprentices through training at its Baldovie plant.
There are currently about 30 at various stages of their four-year programmes which prepare them for a full range of engineering jobs needed for a modern and successful manufacturing facility.
The opportunity exists for apprentices to go on to study at university level, and it is open to them to pursue careers in management.
Two-thirds of the plant’s current engineering management team began their careers as Michelin apprentices.
Mr Reid stated: “Our apprentices are vital to us. Without them we would be in real trouble.
“Quite simply, without a steady stream of talent we would not be able to operate.”
He was keen to champion the cause of apprenticeships in an age when university is often regarded as the best destination for school leavers.
“Universities are not right for everyone and apprenticeships can lead to a very bright future too,” he declared.
“More and more young people are finding that apprenticeships suit their circumstances better, and they also offer the opportunity to earn while they learn.
“That is continually being seen in our recruitment process as we regularly receive about 300 applications for each of the six apprenticeship places we offer each year.”
Michelin’s commitment to Dundee extends beyond its own operations.
It also trains apprentices for outside companies at its training school, with about 30 presently engaged.
*Almost two thirds of home owners would look kinder on a building firm knowing they trained apprentices, and almost half would be keener on actually hiring such a firm.
Almost two thirds of home owners think building firms should highlight in their marketing material that the have apprentices.
The Federation of Master Builders research is based on responses from 2,000 home owners across the UK.
Brian Berry, chief executive, said: “This new research confirms that apprentices are good for your business.”