Jaguar Land Rover has ambitious plans to grow its business in new markets. With this growth, comes the need to recruit future talent capable of meeting these challenges. Bethany Evans, Head of Learning and Development at Jaguar Land Rover, explains how apprenticeships are helping to meet the increasing needs of the business.
As a business at the forefront of automotive innovation, Jaguar Land Rover has ambitious plans to grow its business in new markets, reaching more customers than ever before with an enhanced product line up from its two great motoring marques.
The fiercely competitive automotive industry is experiencing a new age of innovation. Today it sits alongside other high-tech industries such as aerospace – in fact there are more than 100 million lines of electrical code in a luxury car such as the Jaguar XJ versus 6.5 million in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, a statistic which highlights the technical knowledge and expertise required by Jaguar Land Rover's 7,000 engineers who dedicate themselves to addressing the many challenges facing an industry, which is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. It also highlights the sheer complexity of vehicles produced at Jaguar Land Rover’s three advanced UK manufacturing facilities.
With this growth comes the need to recruit future talent capable of meeting these challenges and delivering long term, sustainable success and for the UK’s largest automotive employer – this starts with apprenticeships. Apprenticeships have long been central to Jaguar Land Rovers commitment to fostering emerging talent and its pioneering apprentice programmes are just one way in which the company is seeking to redress the shortage of skilled engineers impacting the UK automotive industry. In 2011 Jaguar Land Rover enhanced its apprentice offering with the introduction of Intermediate and Higher Apprenticeships alongside the well-established Advanced programme. Together these schemes provide Jaguar Land Rover with a comprehensive package of talent programmes designed to meet the needs of its business. As a result Jaguar Land Rover is now the UK’s largest provider of apprenticeships in the automotive manufacturing sector.
The Intermediate (Level 2) Apprenticeship was introduced in 2011 to support the launch of the Range Rover Evoque and was developed in collaboration with NAS (National Apprenticeship Service) and SEMTA (the Sector Skills Council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies in the UK). With the introduction of an incremental model line the company required more than 1,500 new production operatives at its Halewood plant, many of whom had never worked in an advanced manufacturing environment before. As such a comprehensive up-skilling programme was introduced which enabled participants to make a contribution from day one whilst accelerating technological skills and undertaking robust work based assessments to demonstrate tangible competence in the pursuit of industry leading quality. Such was the success of the one year NVQ2 in Business Improvement Techniques and level 2 Technical Certificate that the company rolled it out across its two West Midlands plants to provide production operatives with the opportunity to further enhance existing skill sets. To date more than 5,500 employees have undertaken this programme. With a well-established Advanced Apprenticeship (level 3) aimed at GCSE students and a programme in place to support the provision of training at a skilled trade level, Jaguar Land Rover turned its attention to an area where bridging the skills gap has become more critical than ever before – engineering technicians. Without individuals capable of delivering the innovations of the future Jaguar Land Rover will be unable to fulfil its growth potential and with this in mind Jaguar Land Rover played an instrumental role in shaping, designing, piloting and implementing a new technically focused, Higher Apprenticeship framework (level 6). Aimed at A-Level entrants, the six year Higher Apprenticeship programme is now in its second year and provides students with the unique opportunity to work alongside world-class engineers in cutting edge facilities whilst studying towards a fully funded engineering degree from The University of Warwick.
There are currently more than 100 apprentices undertaking the Higher programme with many already seeing immeasurable benefits from the blended approach to learning. One such apprentice is Thomas Lines who joined Jaguar Land Rover’s Higher Apprenticeship programme in September 2012 having spent three years in the army with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers where he achieved A-Levels in Maths, Physics and Electronics.
On leaving the army at 19 Thomas decided to pursue his passion for engineering with a degree at Newscastle University but when the financial burden became too much he was forced to leave his studies and take on a full-time job. Thomas said: “It was devastating to have to leave university and take on a full time job that did not fulfil my long term aspirations of working within the engineering sector, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it led me to Jaguar Land Rover and an apprenticeship with combines relevant academic study and real world experience. Today I earn a competitive salary, learn new things every day and work for an amazing company; it really has been a fantastic opportunity.”
Since joining Jaguar Land Rover Thomas has spent a year studying towards his foundation degree and a series of NVQ’s designed to impart the skills and knowledge required in his role within Design Technical. Thomas has also been an ambassador for the Jaguar Land Rover Apprenticeship programme at a number of high profile external events including The People’s Policy Forum. Speaking of his time with the company Thomas said: “My first year at Jaguar Land Rover has been incredibly rewarding. Knowing that over the coming years I will develop the skills I need to work for a premium car manufacturer and hold my own amongst the some of the best engineers in the automotive industry is more than I could have hoped for a year ago.”
The depth of focus around the Higher Apprenticeship programme and the feedback received relating to new starters gives Jaguar Land Rover confidence that they will provide well-rounded technicians in particularly hard to fill roles, where traditional graduates have initially struggled to hit the ground running in terms of the vocational tacit skill transfer required. Continuous improvement of its entire apprentice framework has seen a three-fold increase in apprenticeship levels, business functions supported and career pathways introduced in the last three years and completion rates have risen from 70 percent pre 2008 to 95 percent today. With future growth of its apprentice framework planned, Jaguar Land Rover faces the task of attracting a strong pipeline of suitable qualified candidates. In 2012 the company improved its digital and traditional recruitment presence resulting in 5,000 applications for 150 places on its programme but this level of attraction needs to be enhanced further to ensure the very best students are recruited on to the scheme. Amongst these candidates, Jaguar Land Rover is keen to see a greater number of applications from young females.
Improving gender balance is a priority for Jaguar Land Rover where women represent just nine percent of the company's workforce. Though the number of young women joining the apprenticeship programmes is encouraging – uniquely Jaguar Land Rover welcomed twins, Bethan Phillips and Teresa Fernandes Phillips on to its Halewood programme this year, there is still much work to be done to dispel long standing myths that engineering is the preserve of men. The 'Inspiring Tomorrow's Engineers: Young Women in the Know' initiative which has been developed in partnership with Birmingham Metropolitan College has been designed to do just this. In its inaugural year more than 100 young women from across the Midlands and Merseyside participated in the national programme, managed by Jaguar Land Rover’s Education Business Partnership Centres which operate at the Solihull, Castle Bromwich and Halewood manufacturing sites. The students, aged 15-18, spent a week touring manufacturing, design and engineering sites, met women from all levels of the business to find out about their career experiences and spent a day on work experience with a female mentor. They also find out about Jaguar Land Rover’s Apprentice and graduate schemes and participate in workshops on job applications, assessment centres and interview techniques.
Jaguar Land Rover aims to attract more women into engineering roles with women making up around 18 percent of the graduate intake, 8 percent of apprentices and 18 percent of undergraduate placements in 2012. The company has a number of initiatives in place to support this objective including the ‘Engineering Network for Women’ which is in its 3rd year. The Network connects women who work for Jaguar Land Rover with female engineering students interested in pursuing a career in the automotive sector. Meanwhile the ‘Women in Engineering Sponsorship Scheme’ gives financial and practical support to female undergraduates interested in engineering careers, as well as work experience with the company through three, six or 15-month placements. Jaguar Land Rover has increased its target of 10 initial placements to 17 places in 2013, with each participant assigned a mentor and given a bursary of £1,500.
As the field of automotive engineering evolves so too must its workforce. Jaguar Land Rover is signalling its intent through future-proofing its engineering capability so that not only is it addressing the needs of its workforce, it is providing a sustainable foundation for the future of manufacturing in the UK.
Bethany Evans, Head of Learning and Development
Jaguar Land Rover