Steve Gray, General Manager of Brighton based facilities management company TSS is a firm believer in the importance of high quality training. The company has enjoyed a long relationship with Steve Willis Training Centres , and he’s known Steve himself for almost 30 years.
TSS has a regular intake of apprentice gas engineers who are trained through the Steve Willis Training Apprenticeship programme, and Steve Gray thinks this is vital for the future of the business.
The value of apprenticeships
“With an apprentice you get a fresh set of ideas coming in, they’re learning the latest technology, plus all the additional skills such as customer service, health and safety, life skills - we’re not just getting a heating engineer – they’re coming out as the finished package now.
The apprenticeship programme is properly structured - whereas years ago the first year you swept up and made tea, now there’s targets and milestones they need to reach and we give them the work experience to achieve that.
If you bring someone through as an apprentice, you know you’re getting a good engineer.”
Working with Steve Willis Training
“I’ve always done my training at Steve Willis Training – I first trained with Steve himself when he was at Crawley College many years ago. We know that if an apprentice, or in fact any engineer, is coming from Steve Willis, we can be confident that engineer will be competent. It’s got a reputation for being hard, but we know that they’re not just being handed their accreditation.
We’ve had engineers trained elsewhere, and we’ll do interviews and get them on board and then find that quite often they’re lacking a basic understanding of gas regulations and scenarios of what can happen on a job. It is known for being much tighter at Steve Willis, but you know you’re getting an engineer that’s not going to cause you any problems. We’ve recently started an electrical apprentice there for the first time, as we’re confident that we’ll get the best training for him too.
The location is great, and the facilities are great – it’s come on a lot since it was just one building! We know the site and staff well and we know the assessors, and they don’t want to see you fail. The support is always there.”
Thoughts on the future
“Judging from our business, and people I know in the area, there will be a lot of people retiring and I hope there will be enough coming in to replace them. The people that we’ve got in their late fifties and sixties, they’ve got the knowledge of all the years and all the appliances that have evolved from just the normal atmospheric boilers to what is now fully modulated and condensing. The younger generation training now are learning all about combustion, combustion analysis and so on, but it’s important that they are still learning the basics as they’ll be seeing all the older stuff that is still out there.
There are a lot of so-called fast track courses around now, promising huge salaries from day one, but that’s just not realistic and it’s bad for the industry.
I’m optimistic for the future though, and that’s why we value our relationship with Steve Willis Training. We know that when we invest in training, apprenticeships or short courses, we get a well-trained, competent engineer.”