Birmingham based Lander Automotive Ltd won SME Employer of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards 2021. We explore its apprenticeship scheme.

Lander Automotive manufactures fluid carrying and structural tubular products mainly for the automotive sector. In 2015 it began to recruit apprentices across all areas, not just its core business of engineering, technical and maintenance. It now employs apprentices in sales, purchasing and logistics too. On average, it takes on 15 apprentices every eight weeks.

Anita Davenport-Brooks, People, Culture and Compliance Manager at Lander Automotive told us more about their apprenticeship programme.

How important is technology at Lander Automotive?

Normally, we have quality check sheets and target sheets. All that is now being digitised, as is communication between teams. If there's a health and safety issue that needs to be addressed, or there's a maintenance issue, it’s all logged on our system - which we've developed in-house and we're training all of our employees to use.

Not only does it save time and it also ensures that we have the data to work with, in the future. We can check our dashboards to see whether those issues are being resolved, or if there's any hold-up. It means we can work more efficiently.

Tell us about your apprenticeship programme

Initially it was set up to help us reduce our agency head count. It means better trained workers on the shop floor - because without an apprenticeship, we’d be taking on someone who had never worked in manufacturing before.

They might have come from the warehouse, or outside the business and had never experience working in a factory - but now, we’re growing our own talent in just the right places. We introduced apprenticeships because we wanted to make sure they had a good grounding, the staff had a good induction and also had good qualifications.

We didn't totally get rid of our agency workers because they're there for a reason and they do a good job.

What are your plans for the future?

For our organisation, we're making some changes to our apprenticeship programme. We're looking to recruit apprentices at our other two new sites. We want to make sure we give the people on those sites the opportunity to do an apprenticeship but also to bring apprentices into their organisations, because currently they don't have them.

For you

Be part of something bigger, join the Chartered Institute for IT.

We see apprenticeships as key for the future. We want to make sure we continue to grow our employees internally - from apprenticeships all the way up to senior managers - and apprenticeships are really important and vital to that. We've been very lucky to access other levy pots as well, to support our programme, and we will continue to do that.

We're lucky that attrition is really low in our organisation, and we want to encourage people to stay, because they see it as a career for the future. So, our aim is to be as positive as possible and to be as proactive as possible and making sure we give people the opportunities so that they want to stay.

Do you use courses in digital skills to ensure older workers learn new skills?

We do courses in IT and we are expanding this further as we change to a more digital way of working. It has made us re-evaluate our strategy, our values, our vision and our mission. And with that we're going to be rolling out more development opportunities, especially around learning better digital skills.

What about diversity? Are you getting more females and women coming into your business?

We do have quite a lot of females on the shop floor, agency workers wise, and our own employees. We have struggled to recruit females into our apprenticeship programme. We are working with local schools and we're encouraging more STEM engagement and activities, such as providing work experience for local school children. We never used to monitor diversity, but we do now, including neurodiversity as well as ethnicity.

How did it feel to win the National Apprenticeship Awards?

Winning the National Apprenticeship Awards was a fantastic achievement for our organisation. We see it as one of the exemplar awards. We've been very, very fortunate to win quite a few and be highly commended in others. But the National Apprenticeship Awards - that’s the cream of the crop for us.

Lander Automotive - Apprentice Employer