Home Winner: Training Initiative of the Year

Winner: Training Initiative of the Year

Houghton International

Apprenticeship and Training Programme

Houghton International provides a high-quality repair and maintenance service for motors, generators, pumps and other electrical rotating equipment.

Its apprenticeship programme has been integral to the company’s growth from its inception 30 years ago. Approximately 20% of its current workforce are at some stage of an apprenticeship and it recruits 5-10 new apprentices each year.

Under the four-year apprentice programme, apprentices spend time in each operating division to obtain a detailed understanding of each, and to find their preferred area of development.

The company recently introduced an internal training programme to support the development of apprentices and supplement the training received through its external providers. Apprentices attend a half-day training and mentoring session every week, led by a member of the engineering team. The sessions help the apprentices gain a breadth of knowledge from the different areas of the business, as well as access to industry resources such as webinars. The sessions also provide an opportunity to spot talent and route apprentices in line with their strengths.

The apprentice programme encourages innovation and process improvements. Apprentices continually come up with suggestions and improvements to the company’s processes.

An example was an HNC final year project in which an apprentice designed a jig, working with the company’s research and development department. This helped the company win a prestigious contract for winterisation of 400 DC-Line inductor coils. Apprentices are currently working with the company’s engineering team on the design and development of a computerised pump testing process.

Many former apprentices have continued to senior roles in the business. Two, Chris Lisle and Craig Byers, are now respectively head of division and assistant manager of the Rail division. The judges said: “The company’s combination of internal training and mentoring to encourage innovation and practical improvement projects is clearly achieving benefits for the company, the trainees and the mentors.”