December 6th, 2012
Energy Products International
Taking on an apprentice is a big commitment. As an employer, you want to ensure that your investment of time, money and effort will pay off – you want to know that you’ve hired the right person for the job.
And hiring the right person for the job is part of what makes Energy Products International a successful trainer of young up-and-coming engineers. The company has taken on 12 apprentices over the past 21 years – a consistent and dedicated commitment to training given one apprentice alone takes four years to qualify.
“Training is something we’ve always done. We’ve always had apprentices and it’s just kept on going,” says Production Manager Simon Leen, who has been with the company for nearly 19 years.
Energy Products was formed in a Hamilton home in 1982. And today the company is part of the Norfolk Group and is a major New Zealand manufacturer and supplier of heating and air conditioning systems – employing over 50 people.
So how does Energy Products employ the right person for the job? “We always hire our apprentices from the workshop floor. This way they’ve already been working with us as a labourer,” says Simon. “They have to really prove themselves and they have to chase me if they want the opportunity – this shows who has the drive and determination.
“The biggest things we look for are reliability and of course that eagerness to learn. Having them work with us first is a really good way to do things.”
But being successful trainers is not just about hiring the right person for the job. It also comes down to having a supervisor who will nurture the young apprentices to completion. “We have tradesmen on the workshop floor who do most of the mentoring. I think their success is all in that older work ethic,” says Simon. “There has definitely been a change in the mould and young guys these days have a bit of a sense of entitlement – they want to be at the top of the ladder very quickly. This is good in some ways but they also need a reality check sometimes.”
Simon also credits the company’s Account Manager, Allen Bryce, from the Engineering Industry Training Organisation Competenz for his support towards training. “I’ll sing his praises all the time. He’s been a fantastic mentor to the guys and he’s taken a lot of pressure off us by doing all the assessing.”
And Allen also has praises to sing, describing how the company has a positive culture and a great working environment. “Simon is always proactive with the apprentices training and makes time to ensure they are given every opportunity to succeed.”
Energy Products train as a way to give back to their staff but it also benefits the company by locking in a good worker for a period of time. Yet the company doesn’t seem to have any issues retaining staff. “Some of our apprentices might leave for opportunities overseas, but they always come back for stints! We have guys that did their apprenticeships with us 10 years ago and they still work for us now.”
And there has been no slowing down on the apprentice intake. Energy Products has recently taken on two young new apprentices Josh Dixon and James Walters, who are enjoying their training. “It’s great to see young guys like that – I’m always keen to see more tradespeople around.”