For the last 20 years, Kimberly-Clark in Cumbria has been training apprentices to create a skilled and driven workforce to lead the company into the future.
An impressive total of 97 per cent of the apprentices are eventually offered a full-time role at the company after completing a four-year programme.
Choose Cumbria found out how young apprentices at Kimberly-Clark can expect to develop their skills and experience for a successful career.
Stefanos Varelis, 16, is a first year mechanical engineering apprentice.
Stefanos was keen to take on an apprenticeship after finishing school, and likes the support on offer at Kimberly-Clark.
He said: “Kimberly-Clark is a great place to get an apprenticeship. I knew that I’d have a close relationship with my mentor and everyone helps you to do the best you can. My apprenticeship includes practical and theory, which is just what I want. I’d love to have a full-time job at Kimberly-Clark in the future.”
Charlie O’Hare, 16, is a first year electrical apprentice.
The hands-on nature of an apprenticeship suits Charlie, who enjoys working on site and gaining practical experience in the workshop.
He said: “I really like being on site and getting to know everyone who works at Kimberly-Clark. I decided to stay in Cumbria and take on an apprenticeship just over a year ago. I’d advise others to consider an apprenticeship because you gain wider knowledge through hands-on experience.”
Jack Littlehales, 17, is a first year electrical engineering apprentice.
Jack’s ambition to be an apprentice was sparked by family connections at Kimberly-Clark.
He said: “I’ve always wanted to do an apprenticeship at Kimberly-Clark as my dad is a contractor here and I know it’s a close company and everyone works together well. I studied mechanical engineering for a year at Furness College, which helped to build my confidence and achieve my apprenticeship. My aim for the future is to gain the best qualifications I can and progress further in the company.”
Callum Baynes, 17, is a second year mechanical apprentice.
Callum is enjoying the extra responsibility of being a second-year apprentice and is already hoping to study towards a degree after completing his apprenticeship.
He said: “You get a lot more freedom in the second year, so you get the chance to impress when you’re given a job to do. I’m interested in doing a degree in the future and I’d like the opportunity to have new experiences abroad with Kimberly-Clark. I’d always come back to Cumbria, though.”
Dom Herbert, 19, is a third year process apprentice.
Dom’s experience at Kimberly-Clark has introduced him to his perfect career as a process technician.
He said: “I initially applied for an electrical apprenticeship but Kimberly-Clark offered me the process role. It’s helped me understand what I really want to do, and I wouldn’t have considered my role without Kimberly-Clark. There’s no real limit to what you can learn, and I’ve really improved my problem-solving skills over the past three years.”
Sam Lightfoot, 21, is a fourth year electrical apprentice.
Sam is looking to the future, while reflecting on his time as an apprentice, as he completes the final year of his apprenticeship.
He said: “There have been lots of highlights during my apprenticeship and I’ve enjoyed becoming an independent learner in my final year. I started my apprenticeship at 18 as I was adamant that I wanted to go to university, but I wish I’d done it sooner. If you put hard work in, you’ll get results out. My mentors have been so supportive, and when you finish your time you might get an apprentice to mentor yourself. I’d like to apply for a degree through Kimberly-Clark now.”
20 years of apprenticeships
Kimberly-Clark has been running the successful apprenticeship training programme for 20 years, with former apprentices such as Andy Moonan now in the leadership team at the Barrow site.
Apprentice Training Co-ordinator Bob McClean and Skill Centre Supervisor Gary Gibson, both former apprentices themselves, are passionate about providing apprentices with the skills and support needed to develop successful careers at Kimberly-Clark.
Bob McClean, Apprentice Training Co-ordinator Kimberly-Clark
Bob said: “From a manufacturing point of view, we need people with practical skills as well as academic skills, and apprentices get both here. We look at the tasks that need to be done for the operation and link it to their qualification. It works very well, as apprentices can walk into roles as they’re already doing the job.
“At Kimberly-Clark, we’d like to see more women in the apprenticeship programme. They have the talents and bring a different, valuable perspective. I’d encourage women to find out more about opportunities in the manufacturing industry and apprenticeships in particular. It could be a great opportunity for them.”
Skill Centre Supervisor Gary Gibson, Kimberly-Clark
Gary said: “At Kimberly-Clark, we ask our apprentices to take ownership of their own career and it gives them the commitment, drive and passion to want to succeed.
“In the first year, we take our apprentices on a residential so they learn how to support each other and adjust to a different environment. It has a big impact on some of the quieter ones, and it’s great to see the difference in their confidence and willingness to speak up in just a few days.
“Over the four years, I like to see them develop in their skills and technical capabilities but also their attitudes to their career and working life.
“The sky’s the limit and we will support our apprentices as far as they want to go. With Kimberly-Clark, you can become a very capable technician with a great career ahead of you.”
For more information on apprenticeships at Kimberly-Clark, please contact Gary Gibson on 01229 495291 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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