Picture of Nadhim Zahawi MP being shown around Smith Brothers and Webb factory by an apprentice

MP praises engineering firm's apprenticeship initiative

Published:  03 October, 2016

Alcester engineering company Smith Brothers and Webb was won praise for its foresight from local MP Nadhim Zahawi who visited its headquarters to see at first hand the opportunities being offered to young people.

The Conservative politician heard the company, which exports Britannia automated washing machines for trains, trams, buses, commercial and public service vehicles all over the world, is looking to launch a new apprenticeship scheme. And it also aims to recruit more engineers to join its dedicated installation, repair and maintenance teams in the UK.

The expansion comes as the company enjoys a growing order book from UK bus and commercial fleet operators and buoyant sales abroad, especially from the Far East, Middle East, India and Australia.

Mr Zahawi toured the factory with chairman Harvey Alexander, director Andy Barracliffe and marketing manager Simon Tipple who explained the operation and its role in both the UK and global vehicle cleaning marketplace.

He described the company as a niche business and one which would provide a fantastic foundation for young people wishing to pursue a career in engineering.

He said: ‘Stratford on Avon has a thriving business community and Smith Brothers and Webb sit alongside the best we have to offer; they’re a real jewel in the crown. It is fantastic to have this outstanding business on our doorstep, making a real impact across the world.

‘The opportunities that the company has to offer school leavers in the area are really impressive. It’s great to see innovative businesses offering valuable apprenticeship programmes like this in my constituency and I look forward to young people seizing this chance to pursue a rewarding career in engineering.’

Andy Barracliffe, director of Britannia Washing Systems – part of the Smith Brothers and Webb group – said: ‘We see plenty of opportunities for further expansion and, in order to secure a pool of suitable skills for the years ahead, we are launching an apprenticeship scheme that will open up rewarding careers in engineering to young people.

‘We want to grow local talent to protect and preserve the proud culture of innovation and engineering excellence in the Midlands which Smith Brothers & Webb has been contributing to for the past 70 years.’

Mr. Zahawi added: ‘As a government we continue to remain committed to having three million apprenticeships in place by 2020 and to achieve this target it is vital that both corporates and SMEs come forward to support this initiative.

‘It is, therefore, particularly pleasing to see companies recognising the importance of apprenticeships to protect the all-important skill sets which have led to their success.’

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