IMH was founded by experienced engineer, Paul Griffiths MBE and has grown from a home-based business in 1983 to a leading global player in hydraulic engineering, with experience of working across more than 50 countries.
In 1995, Paul Griffiths initiated the company’s apprenticeship scheme.
Paul stepped down as Managing Director in June 2019, and his son James took over his position. Paul remains a key member of the board in a non-executive capacity and brings more than 50 years’ experience to the team.
Paul is passionate about training and development and was awarded an MBE in 2019 for services to engineering skills and apprenticeships in Teesside.
Below, Paul provides comments around the IMH apprenticeship scheme, its benefits and his recommendations to companies in taking on an apprentice.
“I served an apprenticeship at Dorman Long Iron & Steel Company which was incredible! Every day of my working life I can reflect on the skills directly taught and then the ability to self-teach with experience and improve endlessly.
“Some years after, it was not difficult to see a reduction in ‘quality’ apprenticeships, some of it understandably brought on by lack of public financial support at the time, which continued. Such that employers trimmed, and many simply stopped apprenticeships. We, even as a very small employer, could see the skill pool shrinking. But our needs were very specialised and the skills available were not within our very specialised needs.
“It was not a hard decision to see that our solution lay within our own hands and so we embarked on something I have never regretted. But also, very much from conscience that we must pay back, put back into the system that we drew from – this is my personal driver – to pass on that amazing Dorman Long training and not to take it to the grave.”
To date, IMH has had 24 apprentices. 19 have gone on to be employed by the company for a time. The company still employees two former apprentices and currently has two apprentices who are due to complete the programme in March 2022.
“No, we definitely didn’t expect it to be so successful, but yes to its longevity. We were always intent on trying to ‘average’ one apprentice every two years.
“Originally we decided to take on one apprentice and because of the responsibilities of passing on good skills through the traditional work shadow method, we knew we could not give the amount of time required individually to more, so set out to hopefully recruit one apprentice every two years so that the senior apprentice could also help the younger. We never considered this to be a ‘scheme’ although of course it was.
“All apprentices attend technical further education training (day release) and must complete at least a minimum standard. Many have gone on to HNC and two have achieved a degree.
“Later, as we moved into ‘improving’ more mature tradesmen’s skills we formed our Technical Training Centre. We use this as a space for training employees and also providing specialist training to our customers.
“We have also taken on several additional employees as ‘improvers’ where they have been just out of their apprenticeship but short of skills to suit our industry. They have joined our internal training scheme and improved in all aspects from then on.
“The success is definitely also encouraged by all employees who share the desire to pass on our skills.”
“Obviously as the training gathers pace, apprentices begin to have an input. This is very slow and doesn’t start for at least two years but then benefits to the company slowly creep in until after maturity, which we feel is generally six years from beginning their apprenticeship. This is when they become fully integrated into our technical skill base. Their internal training continues and within the company there are opportunities for promotion, but importantly they have been trained to the standard and expectation of our customers. Finding these skills in the job market is incredibly rare and almost impossible!
“There are also external, and not obvious, benefits in that our staff and training scheme has been noted. Customers and competitors alike are aware of the quality of IMH staff, so reputation is a major boost.”
“I know that all of our apprentices and more mature improvers have gained immeasurable skills and experience from their time with us. And those who have since left IMH employment have gone on to successful and improving careers elsewhere. They not only learn skills with us, but they also learn a good attitude.”
“First up, I would be clear that the financial benefit is not good. But the peace of mind in knowing that you are doing good in your community outweighs the negatives.
“You must do your best with these young people – they are not cheap labour and must never be treated so. Your position in your communities will be enhanced and reputation in your market place improved.
“If everyone did it, the skilled labour pool would be plentiful for all to use.
“It’s a no brainer – do it!”
By Industrial and Marine Hydraulics