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Black Country Skills Factory supports 100th Apprentice

The Black Country Skills Factory is supporting its 100th Apprentice through its innovative programme of investment in skills across the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) sector since July 2013. Nick Fletcher, aged 18 years, is currently undertaking his apprenticeship as an Apprentice Turner at J Marklew Engineering Ltd, Netherton, Dudley.

The Black Country Skills Factory is an employer-led project supported by government funding whose aim is to address the skills shortages in the HVM sector in the Black Country, the only scheme of this kind across the UK to focus specifically on the HVM sector resulting in a 21% increase in engineering apprenticeships in the Black Country since 2012/13.

Nick Fletcher took up the apprenticeship with J Marklew Engineering Ltd as it created an opportunity for him to develop his skills through gaining hands-on experience as opposed to taking a more traditional university route. For J Marklew Engineering Ltd, a small family owned business with a workforce of 12, apprenticeships offer the company the opportunity to train young people focussing on skills gaps within the existing workforce.

Nick Fletcher, Apprentice Turner, said: "I have always preferred hands on work and I wanted to follow a route that would allow me to get on the job training and demonstrate my own creativity. Through my apprenticeship at J Marklew I feel I am getting specialised training whilst also earning a salary.”

Stuart Chater, Managing Director at J Marklew Engineering Ltd, Netherton said:  "I took the apprentice route myself and I think it is important for us to support our industry through training and developing the skills of the next generation. And in the process we are able to fill specific skills gaps within our workforce. Nick is already proving to be a valuable asset to the company.”

Colin Parker, Project Director of the Black Country Skills Factory said: "Supporting our 100th Apprentice is a real milestone for the Skills Factory project, it demonstrates our commitment to supporting the HVM sector through a significant investment both in financial terms through the wages subsidy we offer to businesses but also through the skills development, and support, of the next generation of engineers.”

The apprenticeship was sourced by Lean Engineering and Manufacturing Academy (LEMA), specialists in the Engineering and Manufacturing sectors providing outstanding training and support. Working to support the Black Country Skills Factory LEMA is an apprenticeship provider of choice for businesses and young people alike.  

For further information and to find out if your company is eligible for one of the engineering apprenticeship wage subsidies, visit or contact Colin Parker on 07944268709. Follow the Skills Factory on Twitter: @BCSkillsFactory.

Join the Black Country Skills Factory and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) at one of their 2015 breakfast meetings aimed at helping businesses take full advantage of apprenticeships and gain impartial information and advice in the Black Country. The FREE events take place on Tuesday 10 and Thursday 12 February at The Village Hotel, Walsall and Dudley. Attendees should arrive at 7.45am for an 8am start. Please book via or 01384 471160. 

Picture caption (L-R): Stuart Chater - MD of J Marklew Engineering Ltd, Nick Fletcher - Apprentice and Colin Parker - Skills Factory Director.
Image by: Simon Hadley.

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