Additive manufacturing specialist Ricoh is celebrating a landmark anniversary at the start of National Apprenticeship Week 2020.
It was back in 1990 that Ricoh launched its own apprenticeship programme to unearth and develop the next generation of talent in the West Midlands.
Exactly three decades on and the success of the apprenticeship scheme is evident in the workforce of a company which is now growing and investing in cutting edge technologies in 2D and 3D printing.
Scores of youngsters have completed apprenticeships, with a focus on providing real career and progression opportunities, and 35 remain with the business today.
That number includes Mark Dickin, who now heads up the Ricoh 3D printing department in his role as Additive Manufacturing and Moulding Engineering Manager, and began his apprenticeship in 1999.
Over 20 years later and the newest success in the Ricoh 3D team is Junior Engineer Myles Jarman, who has recently completed his Technical Apprenticeship.
Myles, who is a 22-year-old from Telford and began his apprenticeship straight from school, said: “It has been fantastic for me.
“I had the option of doing this or going to university and I’ve no doubts in my mind that I made the right decision.
“Ricoh is a fantastic company for youngsters looking to go down the apprenticeship route and I would encourage anyone thinking of applying for this opportunity in the future to grasp it.
“The company covers all your training and gives you the chance to learn on the job.
“We have also been involved in external programmes to aid our development, such as an outward bound experience in Aberdovey where we had first and third year apprentices at Ricoh join forces for a week and combine our skills to carry out problem-solving exercises.
“I’m now part way through an additional two-year Manufacturing Engineering degree at Wolverhampton University.
“I’m heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of Ricoh’s 3D printing operation, including machine and process optimisation and evaluation, design and production support.
“I’m really excited to be involved in an industry which has huge potential and is evolving at such a pace
“The apprenticeship has given me the chance to look to the future with a level of confidence I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Ricoh’s Apprentice Academy traditionally offers Commerical, Engineering, Production Print and Tool Making apprenticeships, and has now started recruiting degree apprentices in addition.
Claire Shepherd, Learning and Development Officer at Ricoh, said: “The apprenticeship programme has been hugely successful over the last 30 years and we are extremely proud of what we have achieved in that particular area of the business.
“We have made a substantial investment in young talent and the rewards are there for all to see, with a number of fully qualified team members who have committed their long-term futures to the business.
“You often hear that some companies are struggling to make their Apprenticeship Levy contributions work but that certainly isn’t the case with us.
“I can only see the apprenticeship programme at Ricoh continuing to go from strength to strength in the future. There is a real appetite to build on the great work we have already done.”
Ricoh is a true end-to-end manufacturer, taking products through their full development cycle – whether it’s one or one million parts.