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Going behind the scenes with ercol’s Apprenticeship Scheme

By ercol on 5 April 2018

At ercol, we aim to create the perfect balance of comfort, function and beauty in every piece of furniture we produce.  And at the heart of this is our talented team.

The people behind the scenes make ercol what it is. From our in-house design team to engineers and factory operatives, we have curated a talented team that are loyal to our company ethos. And our apprenticeship scheme epitomises this perfectly.

New apprentices with our production director and factory managers
New apprentices with our production director and factory managers in front of the new 5-axis CNC machine

From Apprentice to Factory Manager

Apprenticeships have long been a part of the fabric of ercol.  Our previous Factory Manager started with us as a machining apprentice in High Wycombe when he was just 16.  Eventually, he moved up to become the Machine Shop Manager and finally worked as our Factory Manager in Princes Risborough.  He was an essential part of the ercol family for nearly 40 years, which is why we were so sad to see him leave at the end of 2017.

This story is testament to our staff retention and longevity. Staff stay at ercol because they are part of something special. In many cases, it’s the place they began their career and have developed as an essential part of our team.  That continues with our apprenticeship schemes today. Here are just a few of the people behind the ercol brand.

Jordan Allsopp

Jordan joined ercol on an apprenticeship in Mechanical and Electrical engineering. He came straight from school, considering an apprenticeship more rewarding for him than university. After becoming the first graduate from our new apprenticeship scheme, he’s now half way through a level 4 HNC course supported by ercol.

Jordan Allsopp, ercol apprentice

On his current course, Jordan spends 4 days a week training and working at ercol, with one day spent at college. It’s given him the confidence and ability to take on new challenges both in work and at home:

“Every machine is different and works differently and although it might seem the same, there is always a different fault… The thing I enjoy most is understanding how things work and relating it to everyday life.  I’m not afraid to give things a go now, if something went wrong at home, then I would try and work out what caused it and if there’s anything I can do”

In June 2017, Jordan took part in the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, involving a variety of outdoor sports, developing team building, leadership and problem-solving skills. He presented to the Rotary Club about the activities, experience and the knowledge that he had gained and has even spoken on BBC Radio Oxford about his time as an apprentice.

From strength to strength

As a result of Jordan’s success, we’ve continued to take on other apprentices, such as Ryan. He spotted ercol on the government website for apprenticeships, he recognised the brand instantly from the chairs in his sixth form common room. After studying carpentry for three years in school and college, the CNC Engineering apprenticeship has been the perfect way for him to hone his skills in a practical environment.

Duncan is another of our apprentices, who is on the same course. He already worked at ercol, however, spent six years in steam bending, wood turning, packaging and despatch areas. The CNC Engineering apprenticeship provided him with the ideal opportunity to fine tune his skills with a formal machining qualification.

Duncan demonstrating steam bending on a double axis to visitors at the EEF manufacturing connect event.
Duncan demonstrating steam bending on a double axis to visitors at the EEF manufacturing connect event.

ATG Training and ercol

ATG Training provide a broad suite of commercial courses and apprenticeship training nationwide and were a perfect union with whom to begin our Apprenticeship scheme.  Since Ian Peers, ercol’s Production Director, set the scheme in motion with ATG, it’s clear to see the positive results. After this initial success, we’re looking to expand our apprenticeship scheme to new roles within the ercol family.  Nothing is firmly in place yet, but there could be some exciting opportunities in the future, so watch this space!


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