"I’M REALLY PLEASED WE WENT DOWN THE APPRENTICESHIP ROUTE, WHICH IS ALREADY PROVING HUGELY BENEFICIAL – BOTH FOR KATIE AND THE BUSINESS AS A WHOLE."
A family engineering business says apprenticeships are helping nurture the talent pool needed to produce its highly-specialised product.
Moontown Ltd, of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, manufactures spring-energised PTFE (polytetrafluroethylene) seals used in the oil and gas industry, as well as in food production, pharmaceuticals, aviation and automotives.
The firm, based at Lowmoor Road Business Park, was founded 20 years ago by John Proctor and is now headed-up by his daughter, managing director Lisa Proctor.
Lisa said: “We started out as a distributor of PTFE seals with just the two of us working in a small office, but in 2011 my father saw the opportunity for us to manufacture the product in-house.
“We moved to our current premises in 2012 where we mould and sinter PTFE powder, to machine into high-performance seals needed for industry.
“We can also manufacture our own springs to fit the seals and we employ 13 people in production, technical and customer support roles to keep the business running smoothly.”
Keen to grow its workforce, the company recently took on Katie Watts as a trainee spring-fitter.
The 19-year-old was recruited by Vision Apprentices, which provides employers with high-calibre candidates.
Katie, from Hucknall, is working towards a Level 2 Performing Manufacturing Operations apprenticeship.
Lisa said: “I contacted Vision Apprentices and explained the kind of individual I needed for working with a very niche product. Because our product is so specialised, I wanted to have an apprentice who we can teach the manufacturing skills and processes from scratch.
“Vision Apprentices handled the entire recruitment process including the job interviews, which really helps a small business like ours.
“Katie joined us in May and her training takes place solely in the workplace rather than in a classroom, which means she’s learning in a familiar environment and is assessed on-the-job.
“The assessor and placement officer both come to see her regularly to ensure she’s getting along with her assignments and that she’s progressing well, so there’s plenty of support, both for the apprentice and the employer.”
Apprentice Katie said: “I discovered the job on the Vision Apprentices website and it really appealed. I’ve always loved learning about how things are made and used to work for a company that manufactures aeroplane parts.
“My role at Moontown is so interesting and I’m enjoying getting to know the business. I get involved in a process called silicone filling, where I have to carefully weigh and mix the correct ratios of two components and fill the seal jacket with the solution. I’m making the kind of hygienic seals used in the food and drugs industries.”
Lisa is proud to see another female joining the company, saying: “Some people would say it’s a very male-centric job, but I know Katie absolutely thrives on learning how things work and it’s great we’re getting more women working with us. We’re getting close to having a 50/50 male-to-female ratio at the company, which is fantastic.”
The company boss sees a bright future for Katie, who she would like to further develop and provide with additional skills.
She said: “Katie is a hard-worker who enjoys learning. Once she’s completed the apprenticeship and is confident in her current role, I’d like to think we can offer her progression in other areas of the business.
“I’m really pleased we went down the apprenticeship route, which is already proving hugely beneficial – both for Katie and the business as a whole.
“I definitely see the long-term benefits of employing apprentices.”
To find out more about the benefits of taking on an apprentice, call us on 0800 121 8317