The company behind the UK's first Electric Vehicle
Apprenticeship is expanding its intake this year.
Leading commercial electric vehicle manufacturer Smith Electric
Vehicles Europe Ltd (Smith) is recruiting an additional six
apprentices at its plant in Washington, Tyne & Wear. It follows
the company's successful launch of a dedicated EV Apprenticeship
scheme in 2010, in partnership with nearby Gateshead College, when
it recruited six apprentices.
Doug MacAndrew is Vice-President of Engineering &
Development for Smith Electric Vehicles Europe - and also sits on
the North East regional council for Semta, the sector skills
council for science, engineering and manufacturing
"It is essential for the UK to invest in STEM education and
apprenticeships if we are to maintain and build on our capability
as a technology leader in low carbon vehicles," he said. "This
challenge is significant, with an estimated 8,500 new recruits
being required between 2011 and 2016 in the North East alone to
replace those expected to retire in the sector.
"Smith Electric Vehicles is very encouraged by the value our
current apprentices bring to our business and look forward to
continuing our programme in 2012 and the future.
"The recruitment of apprentices is a key part in the development
of critical skills within our emerging sector. As a demonstration
of this, one of our first EV apprentices is now working on our
advanced development of vehicles and working towards a university
degree, while and another has taken on a lead role in our battery
While the company's first intake focused on EV production roles,
the class of 2012 will be deployed in a range of disciplines,
including service engineers and back office staff, quality, design
engineers and business administration.
Lindsay Middleton, Semta National Manager for the North of
England, said: "Smith Electric Vehicles is a great example of how
apprenticeships deliver employment and training to young recruits
that is structured to the key needs of both the individual and the
"They offer a real alternative to the university route for
training - and with the creation of the advanced manufacturing
apprenticeship framework can lead to the same qualifications."
Smith produces electric vehicles for depot-based, predictable
route, multi-drop applications. Customers include Sainsbury's, TNT,
DHL and John Lewis. Quiet and clean, these vehicles are ideal for
deliveries in residential areas, emit no air pollutants at the
point of use and reduce CO2 emissions from
The company has developed a training strategy as part of its
continuous improvement programme. It placed two staff, including
one former apprentice, on undergraduate courses in 2011 and all
production line employees have successfully completed NVQ Level 1
and Level 2 training in Manufacturing Improvement. Furthermore,
Smith has recruited four graduates into work-based MSc courses.
Mick Brophy, managing director of business, innovation and
development at Gateshead College said: "An apprenticeship is an
excellent way to ensure you gain the valuable skills a company
requires while being able to give something back to an employer
who's prepared to invest in your future.
"Gateshead College is among the best in the region for success
rates for apprenticeships - to date, more than 4,000 apprentices
have completed their programmes thanks to the specialist support
and training we provide.
"And we've supported hundreds of employers, like Smith Electric
Vehicles, to help them to meet their needs through tailor made
programmes to train young people for the workplace."
Working in partnership with Gateshead College, Smith Electric
Vehicles launched the first EV Apprenticeship Programme in 2010,
with an intake of six apprentices. The four-year course combines
workplace training at Smith's factory in Washington, Tyne &
Wear, with education at Gateshead College.
Learners complete a Level 3 framework in the
nationally-recognised course - the equivalent to three A Levels.
Apprentices gain practical, work-based knowledge and skills through
an NVQ Level3 in Engineered Systems and a City & Guilds Level 3
in Engineering, along with functional and key skills. They will
then have the opportunity to progress onto a Foundation Degree in
Engineering, Maintenance Operations or Electric Vehicles.
Notes to Editors
About Smith Electric Vehicles
Smith Electric Vehicles Corp. (www.smithelectric.com)
develops, produces and sells zero-emission commercial electric
vehicles that are designed to be an alternative to traditional
diesel trucks, providing higher efficiency and lower total cost of
ownership. Smith's vehicle designs leverage more than 80 years of
market knowledge from selling and servicing electric vehicles in
the United Kingdom. Smith Electric Vehicles produces the
Newton™ and the Edison™. The company operates manufacturing
facilities in Kansas City, Missouri and outside of Newcastle, UK.
The Smith Newton™ truck is available in 7.5t, 10t and 12t gross
vehicle weights. The 3.5t Smith Edison™ is available as a chassis
cab, panel van and minibus.