A Huddersfield engineering firm has been praised for its commitment to training.
Reliance Precision Ltd currently has 17 apprentices on the books – an all-time high for the Lepton-based firm.
And managing director Andrew Wright has stressed the importance of its in-house training school in developing a skilled workforce for the future.
Mr Wright said that by the year 2020 – when the firm celebrates its centenary – Reliance’s workforce would include 50 employees who had come through the apprenticeship system during the previous 10 years.
His comments came at a certificate presentation to three employees who have completed their four-year apprentices.
The certificates were presented to former Shelley College pupils Bradley Jessop, David Black and Thomas Broom by Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman and Kirklees Mayor Clr Paul Kane.
The event was also attended by Mayoress Susan Bedford and representatives of Kirklees College and local secondary schools, who were given a tour of the works and met apprentices past and present.
Reliance, based at Rowley Mills, Penistone Road, has run an apprentice scheme for more than 50 years.
And its long-standing independently-accredited training school is complemented by courses run by the college.
Clr Kane thanked the company for a “truly wonderful morning” and praised Reliance for its investment in training.
Mr Sheerman stressed the importance of manufacturing, adding: “What you are doing is absolutely fantastic.”
Mr Wright said: “Our apprentice scheme is such an important part of our ability to develop the specialist engineering skills we need.
“Reliance works at the extremes of precision engineering, making products to micron tolerances, much less than the width of a human hair.
“It is essential that we have engineers across a variety of technical disciplines who have been trained to work at these levels.”
Of the three apprentices who have qualified this year, Bradley, of Denby Dale, is now working in production engineering, Tom, who lives at Thurstonland, is in technical sales and David, of Lepton, is in metrology – the science of measurement.
“We are immensely proud of our apprentices,” said Mr Wright.
“We set the bar very high on entry to our programme and during the training and we are rewarded consistently by their positive attitude and aptitude for tackling the demanding work we do.
“We have increased our investment in the programme this year by recruiting six apprentices and now have 17 student engineers in training.”
Those attending included Kirklees College principal Peter McCann and head of engineering John Mills; Sylvia Howey, of Shelley College; Sean Kelly and Kirsty Flynn, of King James’s School; Paul Greenough and Paul Sharrock, of Honley High School; and Karen Danks, of Almondbury Community School.
Mr Wright said the visit had helped dispel any myths about engineering being a “dity” job and would help promote engineering as a career option for students at the local schools.
“We were successful in getting over to them that this is a great place to work and how manufacturing is moving very quickly.”
Reliance, which dates back to 1920, employs 200 people at Lepton and a further 40 in Ireland.
The company provides precision engineerd components for customers making products including sub-sea exploration equipment, space satellites, scientific instruments and robotic hands.