Encouraging experienced employees with one eye on retirement to ‘give back’ to the new generation has become a key component to developing a loyal and skilled workforce at Cardiff-based Celsa Steel UK.
The company initially established its apprenticeship programme in 2005 to address a lack of effective knowledge transfer created by an increasingly ageing workforce.
It has evolved into a new 10-year plan that is bridging a 50-year gap between retirees and new recruits, with a business sustainability strategy allowing for knowledge transfer much earlier in an engineer’s career.
Now Celsa Steel UK has been shortlisted for the Employer of the Year Award at the prestigious Apprenticeship Awards Cymru 2022. The winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony on November 10.
Chrystalla Moreton, one of the company’s talented apprentices, has also been shortlisted for the Tomorrow’s Talent Award.
The awards highlight the outstanding achievements, during unprecedented times, of employers, apprentices and work-based learning practitioners.
A plan for prosperity
Highlight of the year for apprentices, employers and work-based learning providers and practitioners, the awards are organised by the Welsh Government and supported by the National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW). Headline sponsor for the third year is Openreach.
Terry Collier, Celsa Steel UK’s apprenticeship manager and himself a former apprentice, said: “We have a full view of retirement age staff five years before they leave Celsa, including what skills we need to backfill to plan for a watertight succession.
“That guides how many apprentices we recruit per section per year and ensures business continuity. Our approach, combined with the skill shortage in the UK, means our workers are in high demand in the marketplace, so our efforts are focused on promoting longevity.”
He explained that the company has around 70 apprentices, including 23 recruited this year. Staff turnover is low with apprentices staying at Celsa for 6.8 years, compared to direct hires who remain in the role for just 1.2 years.
The 10-year plan, developed with training provider TSW Training, is meeting a UK-wide shortage of craft engineering skills by transitioning a new apprentice from college to work, and then through career progression.
Every apprentice sees their career path through Celsa from the outset, stepping up to be mentors and managers, to senior engineers and a member of the leadership teams.
It then supports a ‘tipping point’ – a stage in the career when the employee stops gaining new skills and gives back, enabling the company to create an abundance of engaged and involved experts with the ability to mentor.
With more than 9,000 employees worldwide, Celsa is the first steel company to be awarded the ‘We Invest In Apprentices Gold standard’ from Investors In People.
Working with TSW Training to futureproof the workforce
“Celsa is deserving of the award because it is one of the few that closely observes the progress of its apprentices, listens to their needs, acts in the best interest of the individual, and supports them whatever challenge they face,” said a spokesperson from TSW Training.
Working with the company, TSW Training delivers apprenticeships in Marketing, Business Administration, Engineering and Production. Apprenticeship Programmes, delivered at Celsa range from AAT, Business Administration, Supply Chain Management to Logistics, Production, Laboratory and Science Technicians and Mechanical or Electrical Crafts.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething congratulated Celsa Steel UK and all the other shortlisted finalists. “Apprenticeships make a huge contribution to our economy and will be crucial as Wales continues to bounce back from the pandemic,” he said.
“They can help futureproof, motivate and diversify a workforce, offering people the chance to gain high-quality vocational skills.
“As part of our Young Person’s Guarantee, the Welsh Government will be investing £366 million over the next three years to deliver 125,000 all-age apprenticeships across Wales during the current term of government.
“We want to increase opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to develop transferable skills in the workplace and improve their lives. The investment will also help tackle skills shortages and gaps in priority sectors critical to drive productivity and economic growth, supporting our net zero ambitions, the every-day foundational economy and public services.”