Cougar Automation has a strong track record of recruiting and developing enthusiastic young people.
As one of the largest independent control system integrators in the UK, it has three sites in the southern region, with the head office in Waterlooville employing 50 staff.
It has spoken out about the benefits of investing in young talent to encourage other firms to follow suit and create opportunities for young people as part of the 100 in 100 campaign, which seeks to create 100 placements for young people in Portsmouth and the surrounding areas in 100 days.
The campaign, set up by Shaping Portsmouth in partnership with the Portsmouth education and business community and supported by The News, was launched on the back of rising youth unemployment.
Cougar Automation’s southern business unit administrator, Cheryl Martin, who is undertaking an HR apprenticeship herself, said: ‘Apprenticeships are important to Cougar Automation as a way of bringing in new talent and a fresh perspective.
‘We believe in educating the younger generation and introducing them to an industry that few people are aware even exists’
100 in 100
It has six young apprentices within its team – Lauren Norris, Michael Kattenhorn, Ben Evans, Sheldon Wibberley, Buddy Heydon and Jack Ventham.
Lauren completed a business administration apprenticeship with PETA Training and Consultancy.
Michael completed a degree apprenticeship in embedded electronics with the University of Portsmouth.
Ben, 18, is the youngest engineering apprentice. He is studying his L4 engineering HNC at Fareham College’s CEMAST Campus for Engineering as a higher apprenticeship.
Sheldon started his L4 apprenticeship in project management at Fareham College whilst in lockdown.
Engineering apprentice Buddy has just completed his L3 apprenticeship and is embarking on his HNC in electrical engineering at HSDC.
Jack was spotted at an apprenticeship day in 2019 and is just completing his L4 project management course at Fareham College and is applying for the chartered management degree apprenticeship at University of Portsmouth.
General manager of the southern business unit Donald Wibberley said: ‘Over the past 10 years we have regularly had engineering apprentices going through our company.
‘We have found the scheme a great way to not only put something back into society, but also develop and grow engineers from within the organisation.
‘In the past two years we have started a similar scheme for project manager apprentices and as an organisation are already seeing the benefit and contributions these individuals are making. For the apprentices they earn while they learn and become qualified without the debt associated with other further education schemes.’
Donald said the business works hard to attract young people into the industry, attending careers fairs in their local community, as well as engaging with local schools to show the many exciting opportunities that are available in STEM industries.
He said that Cougar Automation is also aware there are still more men than women in the world of engineering, therefore they are particularly keen to promote the opportunities available to young women.
We're off to a great start with our 100 in 100 campaign - just five weeks after it was launched, 17 employers in the Portsmouth area have already committed to taking on a total of 29 apprentices. Could you join them? For more information, go to shapingportsmouth.co.uk or to register an interest, e-mail [email protected]
Here's our roll of honour so far:
Really B2B - marketing agency based at Lakeside, North Harbour
Portsmouth Diocese - Church of England area covering 139 parishes
STS Defence - technology and engineering business based in Gosport
Eaton Aerospace - aerospace company based in Bedhampton
Transalis - business solutions company based in Portsmouth
Portsmouth Water - utility company responsible for water supply and distribution
Morris Crocker - chartered accountants based in Havant
Highbury College - further education college in Cosham
Tax Assist - accountancy firm in Portsmouth
Yellow Strawberry - hairdressing salon in Hayling Island
*Apprenticeships via training provider Highbury College
South Western Railway – train operating company that runs services in south west London and southern counties of England and on the Isle of Wight -
*Apprenticeships via training provider Fareham College
Puddleduck Day Nursery - children's nursery in Milton -
The John Doyle Partnership – accountants in Southsea
Highfield Professional Solutions - an employment agency in Durley
Activ8 Minds - an after-school programme in Emsworth
*Apprenticeships via training provider Portsmouth College
Castle Pre-School, Cosham
Jackson and Green - accountants, business and tax advisers in Cosham
*Apprenticeships via training provider HSDC
Portsmouth City Council
100 in 100 Partners
Solent Apprenticeship Hub
Hub manager Jodi Fair said: ‘We are thrilled to be playing a part in 100 in 100 and have confidence that this will be beneficial, not only to the individuals who are beginning their career journeys, but also the employers that will be introducing new, skilled employees into their workforce.’
Portsmouth City Council
Cabinet member for culture, leisure and economic development and deputy leader Steve Pitt said: ‘The 100 in 100 campaign is a great opportunity to celebrate the important work that is undertaken across the city and the positive steps it takes towards recovery. Collaboration between our incredible businesses and the skills providers who support them is a powerful tool for growth. As a council we are committed to raising aspirations and skills development. That's why we're supporting this campaign, the business growth and the entrepreneurial spirit Portsmouth is known for.’
College principal and CEO Andrew Kaye said: ‘We are delighted to be supporting this initiative encouraging employers to offer new and existing staff and young adults the opportunity to take their first step on to the career ladder, or progress further in their chosen career. Fareham College’s focus has always been to equip its learners with the knowledge, skills and experience to achieve their ambitions and we look forward to enabling as many people as possible to gain valuable industry experience to set them on the path of their chosen career, as well as aiding the local economy and assisting business recovery in the region.’
Highbury College, Portsmouth
Craig Mincher, commercial director, said: 'The 100 in 100 campaign comes at a crucial time for both individuals and businesses in Portsmouth. Highbury College are proud to play a part in a campaign that will offer such hope and tangible outcomes for both local employers and adults of the city.'
Havant and South Downs College
Director for business growth and innovation Aaron Butson said: ‘Everything we do at HSDC is to realise the ambitions of our community and we fully support Shaping Portsmouth and partners in the 100 in 100 campaign. With everyone working together to realise this ambition, we will all have a tremendous impact supporting young people into work and supporting others in our community regain employment and upskilling opportunities.'
Vice principal Tom Lloyd said: ‘Portsmouth College is delighted to be able to play a role in the 100 in 100 campaign. Collaboration is critical during a crisis and this project is a fantastic example of employers, training providers and agencies from across the city coming together to promote opportunities and support local people back into employment.’
University of Portsmouth
Claire Middleton, degree apprenticeship manager, said: ‘100 in 100 is a great opportunity to highlight all the wonderful new apprentices and employers that we have in the city and to show the commitment they are making in the road to recovery post-Covid. Collaborating with partners is the best way to raise awareness of apprenticeships at all levels and show the diversity of courses, employers and apprentices that are available in our community.'
Chief executive officer Stef Nienaltowski said: ‘Two years ago, we launched our Roadmap to a Career vision and this programme is yet another key part of that. No matter what your age, your career options should not be a hidden secret but something you can get access to and experience readily. This programme aims to give our people that opportunity and, whilst some of the placements are age-limited, some are not. Opportunity is for everyone and Shaping and our partners aim to make that happen with this and following programmes.'
Placement types available as part of the 100 in 100 initiative
Apprenticeships – combine practical training in a job with study. As an apprentice you'll be an employee earning a wage and getting holiday pay. Work alongside experienced staff and gain job-specific skills.
Traineeships – a course with work experience that gets you ready for work or an apprenticeship. It can last from six weeks up to one year, though most traineeships last for less than six months. You can apply if you're eligible to work in England, unemployed and have little or no work experience.
T-level paid placements – new courses which follow GCSEs and are equivalent to three A-levels. These two-year courses, which launched in September 2020, have been developed in collaboration with employers and businesses so that the content meets the needs of industry and prepares students for work, further training or study. T-levels offer students a mixture of classroom learning and 'on-the-job' experience during an industry placement of at least 315 hours (approximately 45 days).
Internships – a temporary position with an emphasis on on-the-job training rather than merely employment. Can be paid or unpaid.
Work experience (fewer than 70 hours) – enables young, unemployed people to volunteer for placements lasting between two and eight weeks.
Kickstarters – the government's Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long-term unemployment.