Left- Charlie Kett, Right – Thomas Hillman
At Ainscough Crane Hire, our people are our greatest asset. The knowledge and expertise of our teams are second‐to‐none and has enabled a huge variety of training programmes, helping us to teach our values to each new generation that passes through the depot’s doors.
Apprenticeship schemes are a key route to recruiting and retaining new talent and upholding this legacy. Delivered in partnership with Myerscough College in Preston and the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), they have allowed us to train over 30 apprentices in the last decade, giving them the skills and mentorship they need to progress through the industry they may one day lead.
Candidates can come to us from all over the country. Some have just left school, others might be undergoing a change in career path. Whatever their background, all are selected for their dedicated and motivated approach to the course.
There is no‐one better to tell you about our four‐year training programmes than two of our current apprentices; Charlie Kett and Thomas Hillman. they are currently based at Ainscough’s Stockton and Bristol depots, respectively. In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, we asked both to give us a run‐down of their apprenticeship experiences.
Becoming a crane mechanic wasn’t my first choice when I left school. I was already a year into a college degree in Instrumentation when I realised that power plants were not my calling. But I still enjoyed the field of engineering, and I wanted to know more about the technicalities in design and performance that power our every day and trade vehicles.
Apprenticeships give you the ability to learn on the job as well as in the classroom, which has provided me with unparalleled information for my assessments. You’re never not busy at Ainscough. It’s amazing how much more you can learn about an engine when you’re able to strip it apart in front of you – a far better education than textbooks. During our four‐year course, we will take a total of 32 exams on anything from hydraulic systems to steering, as well as carrying out coursework and practical assessments at college.
It’s been strange doing an apprenticeship during coronavirus. I had one year of normality but when lockdown started there were a few days where I wasn’t sure what would happen to the programme. While college courses could easily move online, it’s not as easy to emulate the same kind of hands-on learning available at the depot over a computer screen.
Thankfully, the support from Ainscough has been incredible, and I haven’t had to miss a single day of valuable real‐life experience in the depot. The communication has been excellent, with the QHSE teams working tirelessly to ensure that business operations could continue as normal with a number of added measures including hand sanitisers and staggered shifts.
Looking ahead, I hope I’ll be able to continue working at Ainscough Crane Hire at the end of my apprenticeship. Learning more about the crane industry has made me see how unique they are to the market and, like me, they are always open to learning and improvement.
Each day begins at 7 am with a new and exciting challenge to tackle. If I’m at college, which has moved online in the current lockdown, I’ll be on Microsoft Teams and carrying out my assessments to work towards my NVQ diploma in construction operations. If I’m in the workshop, I’ll start by sitting down with my supervisor to discuss what new crane models are in for servicing. That’s the bit I love – working over an engine and ironing out the problems until we’ve fixed any performance issues and the vehicles are pitch‐perfect and ready for our clients.
The team here are really helpful and always available to guide you through the programme. There’s a real family feeling to working at Ainscough – both metaphorically and literally. My Dad has been a crane operator at Ainscough for years, and it was he who first suggested the company for my mechanics training as he knew about the high standard of skill and knowledge present in Ainscough Crane Hire’s workshops and offices.
I’d recommend an Ainscough apprenticeship to anyone – although it’s not a role to be taken lightly. You need to be fully committed to the job and your training. Ainscough keeps its apprentices for a full year following their completion of college to ensure they are fully competent before making any decision to hire – a reflection of their superior workshop standards. That was another huge pull‐ factor ‐ if your employer has high expectations of quality then those requirements will inevitably filter down to its employees.
Another brilliant thing about the company is that despite their established reputation in the market, they are always looking to improve. Sometimes, being the trainee on‐site can feel daunting but if I ever voice any concerns, I know I’ll be taken seriously. The Ainscough policy is ‘Make the Safe Choice’ and the staff are always interested if you think you can improve the health and safety standards both on‐site and in the depots.
Being a mechanics apprentice at the UK’s leading crane hire company is a dream come true. I’d originally left school hoping to become a bricklayer having worked various trade jobs throughout the school holidays. Over the years, as I’ve been entrusted with more responsibilities, it’s been great to feel myself moving along a more certain path. I’ve still got a lot to learn, but the ultimate goal is to become a permanent member of the Ainscough team.
Ainscough Crane Hire is always looking for the brightest and the best talent in all fields – to find out more about employment and apprenticeship opportunities at Ainscough, please click here.