Young people are being given the chance to develop a career in engineering working for a local company with an international reputation.

Gilbert Gilkes and Gordon Ltd employs 200 people at its base at Canal Head, in Kendal, including some 12 apprentices.

A world leader in producing small hydropower systems, Gilkes has exported more than 6700 hydropower turbines to over 80 countries, as well as supplying a sophisticated range of pumps for cooling diesel engines to many of the world’s major diesel engine manufacturers.

Rich Oakes, head of human resources at Gilkes, said it also has a constant eye on nurturing the next generation of engineers to take the company forward.

He said the company took on five apprentices last year and is considering employing up to three more in 2020.

“We are a specialised company so we highly value on-the-job training and we recognise the need to invest in apprentices,” Rich said.

As part of their studies the current Gilkes apprentices attend Kendal College for BTEC and HNC courses in engineering.

There is also an opportunity for apprentices and existing staff to go onto university-level education; at present three of Gilkes’ staff are being sponsored through courses with Lancaster University and the University of Bolton, whilst two are working towards a Masters in Engineering in partnership with Lancaster University.

Rich said although Gilkes welcomed 16-year-olds onto its apprenticeships, it was also keen to attract those who were slightly further ahead in their studies.

“Our target would be people who are in the process of completing relevant A-levels or an engineering BTEC course, so that we can start them at HNC or degree level,” he said.

During their time with the firm, apprentices experience many different aspects of the business and get the chance to put the theory into practical action.

Rebecca Sandham, head of operations, said: “Not only do they get a good academic grounding, but we offer excellent on-the-job sector training during their apprenticeship.

"Apprentices will rotate around various different parts of the business - including working in the field as hydro engineers, manufacturing and assembly, design, quality control, logistics - to find the right fit for them.

"They will then settle into one area, which will hopefully form the basis of their future career with the firm."

Since 2009 Gilkes has recruited nearly 30 apprentices.

“The vast majority have gone on to secure permanent roles and a good number are still with us,” said Rich.

“We offer a really good competitive salary and other benefits such as an excellent pension scheme.”