Here at Presto Engineering we are actively recruiting for a second Mechanical Engineering Apprentice but what makes us so keen to recruit and train apprentices?  Let’s start with some background information.

There has been a lot of press about Apprenticeships recently and according to the House of Commons Library Apprenticeship Statistics for England there were 499,900 Apprenticeship starts in 2014/15.  This was 59,500 (14%) more than the previous year and the first increase since 2011/12.1

In 2014/15 there were 18,000 Engineering Apprenticeship starts in England1 and The Institution of Engineering Apprentices report that Engineering Apprentices are the most valued across all sectors with 53.6% of UK Engineering professionals having completed apprenticeships.2

Closer to home we have first-hand experience as our Managing Director Julian Lay completed a Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship.  After spending 7 years at Williams Formula 1 Racing gaining experience and subsequently with a subcontract machining company managing the quotation process, Julian started Presto in 1990.  The business has been very successful and now one of Julian’s sons, James, has joined the business and will take over when Julian decides to step back.  James has completed the second year of his Apprenticeship with Banbury and Bicester College in Oxfordshire and is getting more and more involved in the business.

In undertaking research for this blog posting I found a hundred and one advantages and disadvantages of taking on an apprentice.  I wonder how many relate to real life businesses like ours, a specialist engineering company focussed on providing the highest quality machined components at a fair price.  Here are some of the reasons why we recruit and train apprentices:-

Future Talent – Our aim is to take on a new apprentice every one to two years to ensure that we have a continuous flow of new talent into the business.  The key here is to take time during the selection process to ensure that the fit is right.  Candidates may appear to have the right skills and attitude on first meeting but on further examination it transpires that we are not right for each other.  We have developed a detailed selection process which involves them spending time with us at interview, in the Workshop and socially.  It’s a big investment on both sides and we do as much as we can to make sure we arrive at the right decision for us and the candidate.

Succession Planning – As a small business Julian was delighted when James joined the business and started his apprenticeship.  The business has an established customer base that we will be able to service to the same high standard well into the future.  We hope this will give our existing and potential customers confidence in the longevity of the business.  We are going to be around for a long time!

Challenge the Status Quo – As a business we enjoy being challenged whether it is by a complex project or by an apprentice who suggests a different way of working.  We are receptive to new ideas and actively encourage discussion and involvement in projects.  On College days apprentices also learn from their peers working in a range of industries and it’s interesting for them (and us) to learn best practice from each.

Return on Investment – We believe that the more we invest in developing our apprentices in and out of the Workshop the higher the return for all of us.  In the early years our investment of time, knowledge and support is high but as they move through their apprenticeship they become more valuable to the business and we recoup our investment.  Our goal is to develop a skilled and valuable member of our team.

Create Loyalty – We hope that by spending time selecting the right candidates, investing in their ongoing training and development and giving them valuable experience here at Presto they will want to stay with us as part of a skilled and growing team.

If you would like to talk to us about any aspect of our Apprenticeship Scheme please give us a call on 01865 883508 or e mail us at

If you would like to find out more about Presto and what we can do for you please visit our website

You can find further information about apprenticeships on the government website here


1 Jeanne Delabarre, 2015.  Apprenticeship Statistics: England (1996-2015) [pdf] Available at [Accessed 8 June 2016]

2 Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 2016. More Support Required for Engineering Apprenticeships [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 June 2016]