Maggie met three apprentices when she visited Dales Fabrications which designs and makes aluminium products, including fascias, soffits and rainwater systems that enhance the appearance of a variety of buildings.
She approached the firm which hit the headlines last December because it produced curved aluminium solar shading units for digital advertising screens above Piccadilly Underpass in London between Hyde Park Corner and Knightsbridge, seen by thousands of motorists each day in an area popular with wealthy international tourists.
“It’s amazing the range of products that are made in Ilkeston,” she said, while touring the factory on Crompton Industrial Estate.
“Dales is another example of how local goods are making a difference to the country.”
Maggie met apprentices David Pritchard( 22), from Chaddesden, Derby, who is a production processor but also on a undergraduate programme leading to a foundation degree with Derby College and Sheffield Hallam University; Rosie Dales(25), from Nottingham, a welder; and 18-year-old Tia Bexon, of Ilkeston, who is a business administrator.
David had the option to go to university but wanted to learn and earn. “I’m getting a salary and will be an experienced qualified graduate in another two years,” he said.
He gives instructions for what needs to be done, Rosie welds the material, and Tia invoices customers for the work.
“It’s good to meet the apprentices here and to hear how much they are enjoying the work and how they see their careers progressing,” said Maggie.
“I would encourage more young people to look at the apprenticeship route as an alternative to university.
And Karl Prosser, managing director of Dales, who himself served an apprenticeship with the RAF, also heaped praise on the apprentices that he had hired.
“They are all core members of the business, not just trainees, and they fulfil a very real function,” he said. “They have contributed significantly to our recent successes.”
The company boosted sales last year by £1m to break the £4m barrier, beating the previous best figure by almost £1m.