A BASINGSTOKE aerospace technology business has employed more than 1,000 apprentices in the last 50 years.

Middlesex Aerospace, which was founded in 1945, started taking on apprentices half a century ago.

The company has highlighted the benefits of the qualification during National Apprentice Week this week.

Chris Page, business development engineer and apprenticeship mentor, joined Middlesex Aerospace six years ago as an apprentice, and has worked his way up to his current position.

He said: “Most of the senior management team are ex-apprentices and have worked their way up through the company. There’s a strong ethos for apprenticeships in the company and we usually hire them after they have done Level 2.”

Sam Anderson, HR lead for the company, based in Telford Road, Houndmills, said they work with Basingstoke College of Technology (BCoT) to recruit apprentices, who then study at the college for one day a week.

The apprentices work in different areas of the business to gain a wider understanding before specialising in an area they are interested in, potentially taking their apprenticeship to a degree level qualification.

Sam said there are huge benefits to the business, explaining: “I think it makes them more loyal because we have got senior management who have worked their way up from apprentices.

“Our operations manager has been here since the age of 16 so it does make staff loyal.”

She added that the company is also a great place to work, which makes staff want to stay, adding: “I only joined in November last year, so I’m new compared to everyone here, but it’s such a nice place to work.

“I have worked in corporate companies but here, it's friendly and welcoming and it’s like a big family and everyone is willing to help everyone. We have a good staff retention, lots of people have been here a long time.”

Chris advised other businesses considering taking on apprentices to ensure there is a position available for them after they have finished their qualification, adding: “Ensure that you have a robust structure in place. I worked for a company that didn’t have a structure and came to Middlesex Aerospace and they knew what I was going to be doing and the end goal. So ensure there is a structure to suit the business going forward.”

He added: “There’s so many benefits to the business.

“They bring a positive attitude and they know how to harness technology and pick things up quickly. The whole point is to have flexible engineers where they can move around the business.”

Sam pointed out that companies can take advantage of the government levy given to businesses to train apprentices, adding: “It’s free money from the government you are being given and it’s a great way to get young, enthusiastic people into the business that helps the business grow and expand.”

However, she said it was also important to take into consideration each individual apprentice, explaining: “We look at what interests them, what they need to do for their apprenticeship and what works for the business so we make it individual for each apprentice.

“That’s why people are enthusiastic because they get to do what they are interested in.”