Unipres UK is reaping the rewards of launching its own training academy designed to roll out the next generation of automotive experts.

The Unipres Training Academy, which opened its doors just over a year ago, trains budding young apprentices in a simulated manufacturing environment.

Housed in the Washington Business Centre, the Academy is stocked with state-of-the-art robotic equipment and is overseen by Unipres’ most experienced employees and training specialists.

Speaking about the academy, Unipres UK plant director, John Cruddace, said: “It is the culmination of a vision combined with a great deal of hard work and investment.

“We have the best apprentices here, so it’s only fitting that they have the best facility possible in order to learn the ropes.

“All of the machines and equipment we have at the Unipres Training Academy are exactly the same as we use in the main plant, so the transition from training to the working environment is as smooth as possible.”

And, as well as the ability to train up to 100 apprentices a year, the academy also supports Unipres’ ongoing commitment to upskilling existing staff members and promoting from within.

Maureen Askew, senior controller at the Unipres Training Academy, added: “As a company, we’ve recruited almost 300 apprentices since 1989, and apprenticeship positions continue to grow throughout the business.

“The industry continues to face a skills shortage and it is essential that businesses, like ourselves, continue to invest in training for new employees and the existing workforce.

“This is exactly what the academy allows us to do. Using our industry specialist equipment, we don’t just train our apprentices to the best possible standard but also enhance the skills of our existing staff. It benefits everyone.”

The academy has proven a huge hit in its first year with almost 100 apprentices using the facility within the first 12 months.

Managing director, Gary Graham, a staunch advocate of apprenticeships, said: “The academy is for young people of all levels of educational achievement.

“I want us to catch the kids who might slip through the cracks. Those not academically-minded, but who can develop practical abilities and provide an interesting and challenging career for them.

“A great deal of effort has gone into creating the academy and we’re delighted to see that it has really hit the ground running.

“It operates like our plant, it’s a hive of activity and has a production line where we can take raw material and shape it into a valuable product: a new Unipres recruit.”

Unipres apprentice ambassador, Rhys Goulden, said: “You only get out of life what you put into it and we know here that if we work hard, we can make a successful career at Unipres.

“Apprenticeships work and the prospects here are fantastic for anyone lucky enough to secure a position.”