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Commercial engineering apprenticeship scheme

06 May 2014

The need for high quality apprenticeship opportunities in UK manufacturing has never been greater. Here, the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) explains how it is working with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre’s (AMRC) Training Centre to devise a Commercial Engineering Apprenticeship scheme to help address some of the shortcomings in the current provision

As part of its three year Advanced Apprenticeship Programme, the AMRC Training Centre has established an Extended Diploma in Engineering Technical Sales. Members of the MTA had identified that there was a requirement to develop commercial engineers and approached the AMRC Training Centre to jointly establish an apprenticeship pathway. The Programme that has been devised sees employers being actively involved in its roll out, in providing industrial placements and in offering master classes to apprentices.


The Extended Diploma in Engineering Technical Sales runs for three years and is a blend of practical and academic training delivered at the AMRC Training Centre and in the employer workplace. The qualifications that can be achieved through this pathway include: BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Engineering; NVQ Level 2 Performing Engineering Operations; NVQ Level 3 Diploma in Engineering; Level 2 Functional Skills; Employment Rights and Responsibilities; Personal Learning & Thinking Skills.


This commercial engineering apprenticeship is designed to develop the skills and knowledge that will allow an individual to move into a sales engineer role. The minimum entry requirements for the programme are five GCSEs grades A-C of which Maths., English and a Science subject are mandatory. Indeed, this modern apprenticeship will be a building block for a career, facilitating progression to a Foundation Degree and a full engineering degree.


The first year of the Diploma will see apprentices learning about computer aided manufacturing, mechanical principals and applications and the uses of computer numerical control in engineering. In the second and third years apprentices go on to study: computer aided design; the properties and applications of engineering materials; secondary and finishing techniques. Students will also undertake an Engineering Project.


Mandatory units, which are certificated, also form part of the Extended Diploma in Engineering and aim to enhance knowledge and complement the overall programme. The first of these is Personal Learning & Thinking Skills and topics within this area are integrated throughout the three year apprenticeship. Topics within this unit would include: team working creative thinking/reflective learning; effective participation/self-management. The second mandatory unit is Employment Rights & Responsibilities and would include, for example, contracts of employment/training agreements. Also mandatory are functional skills sessions in Maths. English and ICT. 


The Diploma covers a wide range of individual topics and master classes. For example there will be units on Metrology, Lean Manufacturing, Standard Operation Procedures, Quality Control and Presentation Skills. The Master Classes, frequently delivered by MTA members, will encompass: Tooling applications; the importance of coolant and fluid control.


There are additional units which incur separate individual charges like modules in French, German or Spanish. Depending on the market the commercial apprentice might eventually work in, a basic understanding of a foreign language could be very useful. Other optional units can be chosen from for example: neuro linguistic programming; negotiating and closing sales; cultural awareness and business ethics in international markets; and writing sales proposals.


The Extended Diploma in Engineering Technical Sales is breaking new ground and addressing the needs of employers in the manufacturing technologies sector. It is an answer to how advanced apprenticeships can deliver for an identified skills need and support the wider engineering based manufacturing sector.