09 February 2023

This month we celebrated National Apprenticeship Week, and with apprenticeships becoming more and more popular, now more than ever it’s important to showcase what the Island has to offer.

Apprenticeships now span most areas of work and are no longer restricted to what most people think of as a “traditional apprenticeship”. New apprentice frameworks are being developed and made available all the time to help reflect the needs of particular economic sectors on the island. There are currently a wide range of apprenticeships available at the Isle of Man University College, including;

  • Plumbing
  • Carpentry & Joinery
  • Electrical
  • Brickwork
  • Painting & Decorating
  • Construction & the Built Environment
  • Horticulture
  • HR
  • Admin & IT
  • Computing
  • Digital Technologies
  • Engineering
  • Hairdressing
  • Dental Nursing
  • Professional Cookery
  • Motor Vehicle

We spoke to Melanie Beattie, International Human Resources Manager from Swagelok, and Paul Roberts, Civils PM & Labour Manager from Dandara, who explained to us a little bit about the success and benefits behind offering the programme:

How does the apprenticeship scheme differ from the graduate incentive scheme or other roles you have in your company?

M: Our apprentices come to us with mostly no experience of working within engineering and manufacturing. Therefore, this is a fast track process to enter into our organisation and gain the skills and experience needed. We pay study fees for our apprentice associates to continue their education up to degree level and can earn a salary whilst they study, which is not common across other educational schemes.

P: The apprentice scheme is a tool to train our younger generation. Having a good split between site and college works, this allows the apprentice to absorb new information and proactively test their skills on-site, it also allows both college and Dandara to build up a good understanding of health and safety/risks in the work place with the candidate. It’s a gradual way of learning and works really well if all parties participate and invest into the programme.

How successful is the apprenticeship scheme within your company?

M: Our apprenticeship is not only IET accredited (Institution of Engineering and Technology), but also sought after on the island with many engineering students applying for a role with us. We have many ex-apprentices working in our organisation some of which in senior leadership positions.

P: Approximately 95% of our apprentices complete the 3 year term and are then employed by Dandara on a long-term basis. Some directly employed, and others self-employed but still contracted to Dandara.

I would like to drive an initiative to try and offer more opportunities to young women in the industry, this still remains very low to non-existent for applications.

It can be recognised that there are stereotypical gender assumptions within certain apprenticeship schemes. Paul highlights a key message about the lack of women signing up for apprenticeships. It is important to make the scheme - regardless of what trade - desirable to both men and women, and guarantee they suit the needs of everyone.

What opportunities do you have currently through the apprenticeship scheme?

M: We offer apprenticeships within CNC Machining, Assembly and Quality Control, which is a diverse cross section of what we do. We offer higher education once the apprenticeship is complete and some of our associates get to visit our US Headquarters as part of their personal development.

P: At present we are not looking for apprentices this year, we have 4 candidates on the Pre-apprenticeship scheme, so these will become year 1 apprentices this September in their chosen trades. We have invested in the pre-apprentice scheme at UCM to allow these 16-year-olds to have an insight into industry from a multiple trade view so that they do not feel rushed into a decision.

We currently have apprentices across all 3 years in the schemes, in Joinery, Bricklaying, Plumbing, and Mechanics.

What are the benefits of having an apprenticeship scheme to your company?

M: The apprenticeship scheme gives us a pipeline of talent into our organisation which consists of people already based in the Isle of Man. We are able to take people at an early stage in their career and develop them within Swagelok’s culture, values and ways of working which makes for a more rounded and skilled workforce.

P: The apprenticeship scheme gives the business support by keeping a steady flow of new tradesmen/women in the industry. It is important that we pass on knowledge from the older generations, so key procedures for certain activities will not be lost. It is also critical for our business and the industry to keep introducing young men/women into the industry in all areas to ensure we can continue modernising build methods and keep constructing outstanding landmarks.

If you’re currently searching for apprenticeship opportunities then head over the job centre to see what’s available at present. Or, for more information on the scheme and the benefits associated with the programme, visit