Degree Apprenticeships - Helping Baxi achieve operational excellence

Baxi, founded in 1866, produce a wide range of heating and hot water solutions for residential and commercial customers, using different technologies, including heat pumps, heat networks, gas and electric boilers. They have seen first-hand the benefits of Degree Apprenticeships.

With 1,200 employees across the country, Baxi are actively tackling industry skills shortages with 47 apprentices spread across different courses and institutions. At present, five of these are enrolled on the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) Manufacturing Engineering Degree Apprenticeship.

Transformation Director Jackie Taylor, based at the Bamber Bridge site, said: “Part of my roles is to focus on future skills development and to work towards ensuring operational excellence in manufacturing across the site. I also head up the Manufacturing Engineering Division, so I have a few apprentices currently within my area. I mentor several of the apprentices directly, giving them a global business overview, and providing any support they need. I make sure that both their studies and their work on site is aligned, and that one is supporting the other.”

Jackie can see first-hand the value Degree Apprenticeships can bring to the business. “Because we’re on a journey to achieve manufacturing excellence, it's great to have people who have exposure to new technologies and new processes. They’re looking at things like simulation, Smart Tooling and automation, augmented reality, virtual reality, and additive manufacturing, because it's what they're learning at university.”

The company has also seen improvements in diversity. Jackie said: “We've got people from different ethnic and national backgrounds who have come in. We’ve got quite a high Polish population, and sometimes they've touched on engineering topics in their studies in Poland, so it’s a great continuation for them to apply for one of our apprenticeship programmes and study a degree in the UK.

"Bringing in young apprentices to work alongside people who have been with the organisation for a significant number of years is a great way to improve diversity."

Jackie Taylor, Baxi

Regarding the upskilling of existing employees, anyone who expresses an interest and meets the enrolment criteria for a Degree Apprenticeship is invited to interview alongside their external candidates. Jackie adds: “There's a real skill shortage of engineers in the marketplace, so employees who already have the knowledge and understanding of how the business operates usually make really good candidates for the apprenticeship scheme.”

Manufacturing Engineering Degree Apprentice Jack Dugdale sums up his experience: “For me personally, I’ve seen the best of both worlds. I’ve seen what is taught to us in theory and then how it is being applied in industry. I would choose to do it again if given the opportunity.” Jack also provides some useful advice for anyone considering Degree Apprenticeships. Jack said: “They are worth looking into. I'd recommend it to anybody. I think it is the best option to gain a degree and industry experience, and you have the bonus of not encountering debt either.”

Fellow Degree Apprentice Alex Mather welcomed the new facilities on offer at UCLan. Alex said: “The Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) is very well stocked, and they have a high level of capability in the workshops, a machine that 3D prints metal, machining facilities which include welders, guillotines and all the sheet metal working equipment you could possibly need. They also have laser cutters and water jet cutters, massive 3D printers and very intricate, very fine detail 3D printers. If the module requires you to make something, they'll have the facility to do that, and the technicians are super helpful. If you give them a correct drawing, they can make whatever you want.”

"Apprentices can put into practice what they're learning, as they're learning it. By the time they come out of the apprenticeship, they are incredible. "

Jackie Taylor, Baxi