The last word: Investing in apprentices

The last word: Investing in apprentices

Pat McNally argues that apprentices are an investment in a strong future for the industry… 


The news that one of our apprentices had been selected from over 9,000 students at Mid Cheshire College and named Apprentice of the Year, has led us to reflect on apprenticeships and their value for Schoeller Allibert and for the industry as a whole.

Data published in January 2013 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) showed that more than 520,000 young people embarked upon apprenticeships in the academic year 2011/12 – a rise of 63,400 from the previous year. Increases in university tuition fees and lingering fears over the economy are sure to maintain this trend towards apprenticeships, but what does this mean for the packaging industry?

In selecting a work-based learning programme, new apprentices are invariably thinking long-term and looking to industries with growth potential to ensure their long-term career prospects. In our view the packaging industry is an ideal destination for apprentices, with sustainability and cost savings driving constant change and innovation. The opportunities in R&D, product design, sales and customer support are there for the taking, but there are benefits for employers as well as apprentices entering the industry.

Experience tells us that recruiting skilled engineers and product designers can be difficult, so we believe in growing our own workforce through apprenticeships. It’s a significant investment for companies training apprentices, but one that’s good for the industry. When recruiting apprentices, we look for individuals with a can-do attitude, a willingness to learn, and an interest in mechanics, who can go on to specialise in process or maintenance engineering – securing the future of British manufacturing wherever they are employed.

From our perspective, apprenticeships train people for roles we need to fill –tailor-making our future employees. We get exactly the skills we’re seeking, and know they’re trained to a quality standard.

Giving our apprentices four years rather than the more usual three also gives them genuine employment prospects rather than simply the foundations to build a career, as they have additional time to rotate around different departments and specialise in the areas they have aptitude and passion for. Apprenticeships should also be delivered in a holistic manner, combining social and business skills with technical content to help each trainee develop as an individual.

Schoeller Allibert is one of the world’s largest manufacturer of reusable plastic packaging. The product range includes foldable large and small containers, bulk containers, plastic pallets, stackable and nesting crates as well as dollies and lids. In addition, it also offers tailor made systems for specific customers and industries. For further information please visit


Stephanie Cornwall
Stephanie Cornwall