Investment in apprentices is paying dividends for KUKA Systems

KUKA Systems in Halesowen is a large employer in the local area who clearly sees the benefits of taking on apprentices to help fill their skills gap. The company not only produces the Thompson range of friction welding machines, but also supplies a wide variety of associated automated production solutions, KUKA Systems with the support of Dudley College their preferred training provider, definitely demonstrate best practice when it comes to supporting Apprenticeships and employing apprentices.

KUKA Systems UK employs 6 engineering and manufacturing apprentices and plan to take on many more in the future.

Stephen Reed, Engineering Manager & Apprentice Co-ordinator at KUKA Systems UK Ltd, Halesowen says, “Our apprentices are our keystones for the future of our business. Choosing and educating them can be difficult. Dudley College have been key in achieving this, we have developed a good working relationship over the 7 years that we have been working together. All of the staff at KUKA Systems UK Ltd support the apprentices, after all its part of our general evolution passing our skills and knowledge down to the next generation.”

“Apprenticeships have become a very successful way of building a pipeline of talented young people, transforming how we attract and develop new colleagues joining the organisation. Apprentices are the lifeblood of our business, we are committed to investing in Apprenticeships in order to develop the new talent that keeps the business at the forefront of innovation.”

Jackie Granger

HR Manager - KUKA Systems

Luke Hipkiss recently completed a 5 year Apprenticeship programme with KUKA Systems and was promoted to Design Engineer after successfully achieving a HNC in Engineering at Dudley College and more recently graduating with a first-class honours degree in Mechanical Engineering at Birmingham City University, indicating the highest academic achievement. Luke Hipkiss says “Opting for an Apprenticeship has enabled me to get a university degree, without having the debt of university fees “looming” over my head. The recent promotion has enabled me to buy my first home at the age of 24 and look forward to a bright future with KUKA Systems.

Two other apprentices hoping to follow in the footsteps of Luke Hipkiss are Conna Buckley and Bradley Norton. Both have now successfully achieved their HNC in Engineering with Dudley College and hope to progress to university to do their degrees in Mechanical Engineering.

Bradley’s engineering talents have been recognised at a national level after he won a gold medal in the 2014 WorldSkills UK engineering competition held at Birmingham NEC.

Bradley says “The knowledge that I have gained from work experience has significantly helped my studies. My proudest moment was seeing something I designed working on a machine.”

Conna Buckley says “Apprenticeships are hard work. However, I have gained valuable work experience and a recognised qualification without the burden of a loan to pay for course fees.”

Lowell Williams, Principal at Dudley College, says “We have some truly exceptional apprentices in the region. Apprentices are not only highly engaged but they experience accelerated levels of promotion compared to non-apprentice peers. With skills shortages still an issue and the demand for skilled labour continuing to rise, there has never been a better time for businesses to take on apprentices.”