Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Skills are key to success, says founder of top firm

Day 59: Family-run aerospace company gets behind our scheme

Minister Arlene Foster with Mark Semple, managing director of Moyola Precision Engineering, at their plant in Castledawson

"We have to keep driving forward to find the best." That is the philosophy behind the apprenticeship scheme run by Moyola Precision Engineering in Co Londonderry.

The family-run aerospace firm, which this week announced a £5m investment, is recruiting four new apprentices - and another four began their training with the Magherafelt business in April.

Moyola components are exported to markets including the Republic of Ireland, Mexico, the US and China. Customers include Bombardier and Airbus.

Founding director Ann Semple, whose son Mark is managing director, said the company always sought out new talent.

"We have a strategy to always bring in new blood and a very strong ethos of apprentice development.

"We have a thriving company with staff who understand the culture and what they must do to obtain the high spec product quality we require.

"All our apprentices have grown up with the company and have developed through the company."

Her husband Raymond is the chairman of the company, which Mrs Semple said had a "strong family ethos".

"Between us we know that training and development is at the heart of our business success and apprentices are key to the future."

It has been running apprenticeship programmes since the company was established in 1975.

She said rigorous assessment was carried out when choosing candidates: "We are very careful in our selection process but it's getting harder and harder to get apprentices."

Workforce numbers are decreasing because of falling birthrates - but attitudes are also a problem.

"There is an ethos of staying in education and everyone's family wants them to go into education," she said.

"Universities are accepting lower grades and schools don't want to let pupils go [into apprenticeships] because bums on seats equal revenue."

And government was not in tune with business, she added: "They don't seem to understand the difference between education and skills. Business needs people with skills."

Mrs Semple said Moyola, which currently employ 81 people, fully supported the Belfast Telegraph's 100 jobs in 100 days campaign.

"The government talks about education, education, education but they need to talk about employment.

"They need to point kids to employment, which is what education is about," she added.

The company looks for GCSE passes in double award science, IT, English and Maths. Candidates also have to pass aptitude tests.

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