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My apprenticeship story: Nifco

Leanne Miller

Created by Leanne Miller, 6th March 2017


Nifco is a global plastic component supplier which works with a network of automotive manufacturers. Established in 1967 in Tokyo, Nifco has expanded into 17 countries with more than 35 production plants and four R&D Centres.

North East-based Nifco UK employs 600 people and is committed to its own apprenticeship programme. Nifco managing director Mike Matthews shares the firm’s story…


A passionate advocate for apprenticeships

“As a former apprentice myself I am a passionate advocate for apprenticeships and the benefits they bring to both a business and the individuals.

“Here at Nifco, we always have eye on the future and recruiting ambitious, talented young recruits that can be moulded to meet the needs of the business is one way of ensuring we are future-proofed.”

The best talent out there

“We first heard about our current programme via a national apprenticeship campaign and developed it with partners Middlesbrough College, which has been incredible at supplying us with the best talent out there.

“Not only has Nifco won numerous awards for the quality of our apprenticeship programme, our apprentices themselves have won several honours for their work on projects that have saved the company thousands in efficiency measures.

A good apprentice is a valuable asset

“Any firm that develops such an asset will want to keep it and ensure it continues to deliver for the company. At the same time that person is progressing through the business and developing as an individual – apprenticeships provide the ultimate win/win situation.

“Nifco’s management is made up almost exclusively of former apprentices.”

It’s tough because there are so many good people

“The hardest thing about offering an apprenticeship scheme is when 600 people apply for six positions - so 99% are unsuccessful. It's tough because there are so many good people. 

“Other than that, nothing is particularly hard, but there is a responsibility on the company to ensure they have the highest standard of training programmes and the time to spend developing raw talent.

“There is little point in recruiting apprentices if you aren’t going to make the time to develop them – it’s like anything in life, you only get out what you’re willing to put in.”

Enthusiasm, energy and a fresh pair of eyes

“The best thing about having apprentices in the workplace is the potential they have… the world is theirs and they can grab it with both hands.

“Apprentices provide enthusiasm, energy and a fresh pair of eyes. I’m always surprised at the innovation that comes from our own apprentices, recognising ways to reduce downtime, eliminate waste or simply overcome obstacles.”

Jump right in, it’s incredible

“First of all, research apprentice providers and speak to those with specialisms in your sector. Then work with them to prepare a robust and thorough training programme.

“Get recruitment right. A lot can be garnered from CVs, make sure you are interviewing the candidates with the personal skills and interests that fit with the roles they are applying for.

“Then, jump right in – seeing an apprentice develop and progress through a business is incredible.”

Looking to start your own apprenticeship story? A whole host of providers and events on our website could help you to make the first step. 

Leanne Miller

Created by Leanne Miller, 3 years ago, [last edited 3 years ago]

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