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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Apprenticeship scheme success for CDE

CDE apprentices

Company’s Apprenticeship Programme accounts for one-third of global design team 

FOR the past eight years, wet-processing equipment manufacturers CDE have partnered with local colleges in Northern Ireland to nurture and upskill the next generation of engineering talent and innovative thinkers in the industry.

Today, almost one-third (30%) of the company’s global design team is made up of graduates from its successful CDE Apprenticeship Programme, which is responsible for the design of almost 2,000 wet-processing plants across the globe.

Since the programme was first launched, CDE have recruited 45 apprentices, including 14 in their 2019 intake. Among them is the company’s first female apprentice.

A four-year programme run in collaboration with South West Regional College, the further and higher education provider based within the communities surrounding CDE’s global headquarters in Cookstown, it consists of a split between time in education and time in employment at the company.

At CDE’s manufacturing facility in greater Belfast, the business has partnered with Northern Regional College to tackle skills shortages and equip apprentices with traditional engineering skillsets, such as fabrication.

Gaining valuable insight into every stage of the CDE operation, which provides a full EPCC (engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning) service, every apprentice works in assembly to gain practical knowledge of the equipment before progressing into other areas of expertise, including the design of the company’s bespoke projects commissioned worldwide.

CDE’s chief operating officer, Sean Kerr, said it is an important resource for the business as it equips future recruits with the skills and knowledge to lead the way in the wet-processing industry.

‘Many of our former apprentices are the driving force behind some of the most ambitious and significant projects we have delivered in recent years,’ he commented. ‘They have progressed within the company to senior design engineer roles and are working towards management and leadership roles.

‘Our apprentices all have impressive academic backgrounds, but as the costs of higher education continue to escalate, many are seeking an alternative route into education and their chosen career paths. The programme offers the opportunity to gain both practical experience and a qualification at the same time.’

Testament to the success of the CDE Apprenticeship Programme, the scheme boasts a 100% retention rate for all apprentices who have progressed on to full-time roles at CDE. 

Earlier this year, CDE apprentice design engineer Joe O’Neill won the Apprentice of the Year accolade at the 2019 Made in Northern Ireland Awards, which recognizes manufacturing excellence across a broad range of industries. Following his success, Mr O’Neill progressed to the final of the Made in the UK Awards 2019, where he was announced as overall Apprentice of the Year in a hotly contested category.

Mr Kerr said: ‘An important part of CDE culture is to support and encourage innovative thinking. Our CDE Apprenticeship Programme provides young people with the opportunity to play a significant role in the future of the company and the development of its pioneering technologies.’

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