Paid to learn and start a career

One of Avantek Machinery’s operational priorities is to bring in young people with fresh eyes and talent for working with specialised window fabrication machinery.

With a decrease in skilled workers reaching critical levels because of the percentage of experienced staff reaching retirement age, the need for young people to discover the fenestration industry is now more important than ever, the company said.

Like its sister company, HL Plastics, Avantek is committed to bringing young people into the industry by offering apprenticeships, and Avantek recently had another apprentice finish his programme.

Kieran Heywood was introduced to Avantek by his friend James Barker, who was the first apprentice to work at Avantek and finish his programme.

Kieran was working at a retail establishment at the time; he’d finished school and knew that university wasn’t something that he had any interest in. He wanted to get paid to learn and start a career at the same time, which is why he sent in his apprenticeship application to Avantek Machinery.

“I had an interview with one of the directors, who gave me a tour of the facility,” he said. “The site was immaculate and everything that they did was incredibly interesting. I knew straight away that this was somewhere I could see myself working.

“I began my apprenticeship in mechanical engineering in 2014 and since then have learned a lot. I’m now the head of the parts department at Avantek. I read electrical and pneumatic drawings, do stock takes, assist customers in replacement parts and order what’s needed for the company. In July 2018 I finished my engineering apprenticeship, and in 2019 I received my NVQs.”

Since beginning his apprenticeship, Kieran has excelled in his studies and exceeded his quotas and targets for parts sales at Avantek.

Avantek’s service and parts manager Dominic Gillett said: “Many of our employees have to go abroad to learn about the machines our suppliers manufacture. They’re specialised machines and you can’t just send a guy out of the country who has no idea about the machine or what it will be used for. Kieran now has the basis to go onto these machinery processes, having done an excellent job within his apprenticeship, and is a valued member of the Avantek team.”