Sudbury: MEL Aviation views apprentices as future of company

Business feature at Mel Aviation in Sudbury. Gary Harvey.

Business feature at Mel Aviation in Sudbury. Gary Harvey. - Credit: Archant

The boss at a leading Suffolk firm has backed a campaign to create thousands of new apprenticeship places in Suffolk.

Gary Harvey, who is managing director at aerospace engineering firm MEL Aviation in Sudbury, considers his apprentices to be the “future of the company” and is planning on recruiting nine for his firm this year.

He said he supported a campaign recently launched by Suffolk County Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, who were calling on employers to help create a raft of new apprenticeship places with the aim that there would be 5,000 new opportunities created in the county by 2019.

“Over the past decades there has been a focus on sending a lot more young people to university, but now there is a renewed effort to promote apprenticeships, as we see graduates struggling to find work,” said Mr Harvey, 57, who himself started out as an apprentice at Mel Aviation, which today has 170 employees and turns over about £24million.

“The problem hasn’t just been that employers haven’t wanted to take on apprentices, there also hasn’t been the young people coming through. But apprenticeships offer young people the chance to gain a skill and a trade, and rather than come out of university with a debt, they will be paid for the training they do.

“I believe, if we boost the number of apprenticeships in Suffolk, it will bring work into the area. We will be able to offer a high skill-base to attract potential employers.”

Mr Harvey said that many apprentices at Mel Aviation stayed on for many years and often reached senior positions.

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He added: “People who were my apprentices over 20 years ago are still in the business, and pretty much all the members of the management team today started off on the shop floor.”

The new apprenticeships campaign is being supported by the EADT where every Saturday a page of the latest apprenticeship opportunities will be featured in the jobs section. Visit www.thesource.me.uk to find out more about the latest apprenticeships .