Addressing the skills shortage

Machinery company Avantek is helping to address the skills shortage – both internally and for fabricators – with two very different focuses, the company said.

Managing director Nigel Bishop said: “Our company and wider group has always had a history of apprentices – so when the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced earlier this year we saw it as a great opportunity to recruit even more young people.

“Becoming an engineer is a highly sought-after career, and competition for the roles has been fierce – we have now had four apprentices within Avantek, taking on roles including installation and maintenance, sales, customer service and warehousing. This will give us a solid foundation for expanding our already large team of experts, who between them provide full coverage of the UK to all of Avantek’s customers.

“If a fabricator is struggling to employ enough people, and then a vital machine breaks down, it just exacerbates the problem. Our aim is to keep all machinery fully operational so at least that’s one less thing for our customers to worry about.”

Avantek designed and launched of the Wegoma Auto Welder – available in two- to six-head options – with which the company is seeing tremendous success.

“We know a standard welding machine usually needs an expert welder to operate it,” Nigel said. “The same welding machine can produce a beautiful window, or a sub-standard one – depending on who’s running it. We also know this expertise is becoming more difficult to find, and retain.

“That’s why we wanted to introduce the Wegoma Auto Welder. It costs more than the standard UNI Welder – but it comes with the assurance that absolutely anyone in the factory can operate it.

“Fabricators switching to the auto are suddenly discovering that they can re-deploy their expert team members to other value-add tasks, such as finishing and quality control. The Auto Welder can actually produce a window of a higher quality than its UNI counterpart – all under the guidance of someone who only started work yesterday.”

Avantek can help calculate the likely payback for fabricators, and both machines can be seen fully working, side by side, in Avantek’s showroom in Derbyshire.