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Fork Lift Truck Association: Incentives for Apprentices


In the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement 2014, much needed additional incentives were put in place to help Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) taking on apprentices in the coming year’s intake. In the fork lift truck industry, an additional £1,500 is to be made available, to help companies employing up to 50 people provide an additional apprentice place.

Once Upon a Time

50 years ago, Britain was powered by a massive industrial manufacturing base. Car manufacturing, iron and steel production, aero-engineering, domestic appliances, ship building, and civil engineering companies thrived. All these companies employed hundreds, if not thousands of men and women. And every year they took on new
apprentices – the lifeblood that would ensure the company continued to thrive in the future.

Slowly but surely things began to change, the digital technology era was growing. Industrial manufacturing companies moved overseas seeking cheaper labour costs, or closed down completely. Britain’s manufacturing base was shrinking at an unbelievable rate, and with it, industry’s need for apprentices. Gone were the days of joining a company as a 16 year old apprentice, and retiring from the same firm 50 years later.

Niche Companies have Survived – but it’s a Hard Life

To rub salt into the wounds, consecutive governments of the time trumpeted the benefits of academic, higher education courses for students. The need for skilled, hands-on bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, and engineers, it would seem, was a thing of the past. Nothing though, was further from the truth.

Thankfully, the UK still has some niche manufacturing bases, and forklift truck companies are one such niche. Now, at long last, the government is beginning to realise there is still a very big place in industry for young, time-served engineers. The best, most cost-effective way for companies to get them is to train their own.

Where there’s a Will – There’s a Way

Realising the need to replace those highly skilled engineers as they reach retirement age, and appreciating the cost of training new apprentices, the British Industrial Truck Association (BITA), and the Forklift Truck Association, set up the Forklift Apprentice Fund (FLAT).

The introduction of new initiatives within FLAT to consolidate apprenticeship training under a National Forklift Apprenticeship Scheme, and financial help with apprentice’s travel and accommodation costs, has already seen a boost in apprentice employment.

Changing Mindsets is Hard to do

Many of today’s small businesses, especially in the UK, began life as family affairs; growing, expanding and taking on staff, as orders demanded. Only to begin laying them off, as new orders went elsewhere. Many of these small enterprises have for too many years lived hand-to-mouth. Would new orders arrive before the end of the month, or would the doors have to be closed?

Trying to convince many of them that investing time and money in apprentices really is worth the effort won’t be easy. A generation of young unemployed have grown up believing there is no such thing as long-term employment. Schools, colleges, and employment centres need to be involved in spreading the word. Explaining how, as a fully qualified engineering apprentice, the world really is their oyster.

Written by East Midlands Forklifts, the leading providers of forklift sales, repairs and maintenance in the region.


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