Charlotte Allen: Reflecting On My Apprenticeship So Far

First year Apprentice at Alpha Manufacturing Charlotte Allen has thrown herself into her Apprenticeship from day one, and following on from her last blog, Charlotte updates up on what’s she’s been up to these past few months:

“So, where to begin? I am now eight months into my apprenticeship with Alpha Manufacturing and a lot has changed since I first wrote about what it’s like to be an Apprentice. During these past eight months I have attended a number of events such as Careers Fairs with our Apprentice Manager William Davies-Hill to discuss with Year 11 and 10s all about the amazing opportunities that can come from going into an apprenticeship after leaving school. It is so inspiring to speak to the young people, especially girls who are in the same position I was in only a year or so ago, and learn about their opinions on engineering and encourage these girls to take the leap and join myself and so many others in the industry.

“I have also ventured onto the factory floor for the first time since starting the apprenticeship and – wow – there was so much to learn! From spending a week with some of the second-year apprentices making crawling boards for our sister company Bri-Stor Systems, to learning all about how to fit tools into the CNC Punch machines. I have also had the privilege of working inside the brand-new Chemical Technologies factory under the supervision of the manager Justin Kelly, getting an insight to all the ground-breaking work that is going to be taking place in the factory and helping set up production ready for June.

Elan Valley“During the Easter Holidays, us first year apprentices took the annual trip to Elan Valley. It was a fantastic week full of team building exercises to really get us working better as a group. We climbed our fair share of Dames, attempted to build a raft to get across the river and lots of orienteering activities. On our last day we helped the local nursery spruce up their outside garden space. It was such a pleasure to give back to the amazing community and give the children a new and improved space to spend their time.

“On a personal note, I finished the week off very happy as I finally passed my driving test- so no more early mornings and coach trips to the JCB Academy for me. Hooray!

“Meanwhile at the JCB Academy, I have started my welding course – I definitely think a master class with Alpha’s very own pro welder Chloe Sales is needed! It’s great to be able to look back from where I started and really see the progress, I’ve made from being scared to make mistakes to learning from them every single day with the help from our tutors. I have loved every second of the courses so far and I am sure it will only grow for the months left to come.”

Top Tips for Applying for An Apprenticeship by Will Davies-Hill

Group Apprenticeship Manager Will Davis-Hill, has guided over 100 apprentices through their studies and in that time has read hundreds ofWill Davis-Hill CV’s, conducted interviews and provided advice to many students nervous about their application.

Whether you’re looking at your apprenticeship options, preparing to apply for your dream apprenticeship, or are getting ready for your interview, Will has listed some of his top tips when it comes to applying for apprenticeships.

  1. Stand out from the crowd

Your CV is your opportunity to show the employer who you really are, why you want to pursue that particular opportunity and what you can offer the company. It’s also to give the company the chance to get to know who you are and what makes you different. Tell your story, this could be; what your hobbies are, what are your hopes and aspirations or even an achievement you’re proud of.

Are you part of a football team? Or perhaps you’re into gaming, dancing or reading. You may have made prefect in school or have done some work experience at the weekend. All of these things help to make you stand out in the mind of the apprenticeship employer and show your personality. You are the expert on you, so make sure you tell the best story of yourself that you can.

  1. Make a good impression

If you’ve made it to the interview stage of your application – well done! This is now your time to shine and show the hiring manager why you would make a great asset to their team. It is important to the employer that their apprentices represent their company, are professional and well presented.

Therefore, it all starts with dressing smart and looking the part. No matter what the role it is you’re applying for, make sure you give the best first impression possible to show the interviewers that you are someone who is professional and serious about the opportunity.

This also means making sure you’re on time and well prepared too. It’s always a good rule of thumb to arrive 10minutes early for an interview, this gives some room for possible delays and allows you to take a minute to re-read over your CV, make sure you’re feeling calm and displays to the interviewers that you’re punctual.

  1. Be prepared

top tips for applying for apprenticeshipsWhen applying for an apprenticeship, it’s not only about why the company should hire you, but the employers also want to know why you want to work for them. It’s important that you do your research on the company you’re applying for right at the start of your application journey. Find out about what they do, the history of the company, read their latest news articles or take a look at their social media. This way you can really tailor your CV to include skills they may be looking for.

For example, in your application for Bri-Stor Systems, mentioning that you have seen on the website that some vans have electric elements and this is something you would love to learn, would demonstrate your knowledge of the company and your passion for working here.

When you’re in an interview, this knowledge of the company will also help you when answering questions. For example, if the interviewer asks where you see your future, and you’ve seen an exciting article on Alpha Manufacturing’s website about their new Chemical Technologies factory, answering that you have recently seen that the company is expanding and you’d love the opportunity to work at the new factory would demonstrate your knowledge and passion for what the company do.

Before an interview, make sure you spend some time drafting some possible answers for questions. These may be answers to standard questions such as: “Why do you want to do this apprenticeship?” but also question’s that may make you think a bit more deeply, such as “What are your key strengths?” or “What skills would you like to develop through this apprenticeship?” By being prepared with answers for these questions, you’ll feel more confident in your interview.

Interviews are not easy, but do your best to look the interviewer in the eyes, smile and show them why you would be perfect for the job.

If you’re interested in applying for an apprenticeship at Bri-Stor Systems, visit

For apprenticeships at Alpha manufacturing, visit

If you would like more information about our Group apprenticeship scheme or have any other questions, email


The Group is supporting Staffordshire company Robust to take on its first ever apprentices

Staffordshire manufacturing and engineering company, Bri-Stor Group, is expanding its successful apprenticeship programme by preparing to take on a record number of apprentices and higher apprentices as well as opening its doors to train and support other local companies’ apprentices.

The Group, which includes companies; Alpha Manufacturing, Bri-Stor Systems, Atlas Coating and HEX Graphics, has invested inMorgan Apprentice its apprenticeship scheme for over 10 years, with a 100% pass rate upon completion of the course for the over 100 apprentices. This is largely due to its investment in a dedicated on-site learning suite and the appointment of an experienced Apprenticeship Manager.

Building on this success, the Group is now looking to expand its apprenticeship offering to include Level 2 and 3 engineering apprenticeships, as well as level 3 apprenticeships in other sectors and business roles from around the business including marketing, signage and graphics as well as Higher or Degree Apprenticeships, all of which they will be recruiting for 2022 intake.

RobustAs a part of this growth, the Group has already supported local steel fire and safety door manufacturer Robust to take on two of its first apprentices this September. Bri-Stor Group Apprenticeship Manager Will Davies-Hill will be supporting these apprentices throughout their three years training, as they take part in the Groups Apprenticeship Scheme, working in collaboration with The JCB Academy. The Group now hopes to be able to offer this training and support to more companies wanting to take on apprentices for the first time.

Robust Managing Director David Lycett, said: “As our business continues to grow, it is top of our strategic agenda to invest in young talent. We turned to the Bri-Stor Group for advice and felt immediate synergy, sharing the same growth ambitions, equally committed to creating opportunities for young people seeking an ambitions and exciting career in manufacturing.

“With the support of the Group, we have managed to onboard our first two apprentices and already have plans to take on more in 2022. Having access to the expertise of Will Davies-Hill, and utilising the collaboration with the The JCB Academy for the classroom aspect of the course, has been invaluable to us. We hope that with our continued collaboration, we will be able to grow our apprenticeship programme and therefore our workforce with driven and skilled young people.”

Group Apprenticeship Manager, Will said: “It is always an honour to support young talent through the apprenticeship programme and to seeWill Davis-Hill them move on to reward and exciting careers within the Group, many of whom end up in senior management roles within our company.

“As we grow our operations, it makes sense to share the apprenticeship expertise we have accumulated in the last decade with other firms that share our passion and energy.  As we get through the pandemic, never before have we been so committed to supporting other firms looking for ways to futureproof their workforce.  Over time, we hope to be able to offer our experience and expertise to other local businesses.

For companies interested in finding out more about Bri-Stor Group Apprenticeship Programme support, contact

My First Month as an Alpha Apprentice by Charlotte Allen

Charlotte AllenI’m Charlotte Allen, I am a first-year Level 3 Engineering Technician Apprentice with Alpha Manufacturing. I am your typical 17-year-old girl that likes fashion and shopping. I have just bought my first car and I have recently started to learn how to play golf.

Growing up, I was always fascinated with my dad’s job as an engineer. He started as an engineering apprentice when he left school and has since spent the last thirty-five years working in the surface finishing industry as a Project Manager. Hearing about my dad’s job is where my passion for engineering came from.

Throughout school, I felt as though sixth form and college were my only options after completing year 11. Since like most fourteen-year-olds, I had no idea what I wanted to do or what GCSEs to take, I did what I enjoyed the most and later left school having passed: dance, drama, health & social care and geography along with math’s, English and science. If you were to tell me at fourteen that almost 3 years later, I would be working in steel toe cap boots I probably would have laughed at you!

Knowing A-level couldn’t be the only choice for my future, my dad and I found Bri-Stor Group Apprenticeship Scheme through Made in the Midlands and it was like all my wishes had been listened too, finally I had found somewhere that I could gain experience, recognised qualifications and have the bonus of earning myself a wage slip at the end of the month.

Coming straight from school to a work environment definitely takes some getting used too.air compressor

Our first day consisted of getting to grips with JCB Academy, where the first year of our course is predominantly taught, and learning what day to day life would be like there. At first, if somebody had asked me if I could use a file, I would have shown them my nails. From getting the coach to learning how to take apart an air compressor, using hand tools to then operating a milling machine, my first month has been a whirlwind to say the least.

On our second day we went on a trip to Alton Castle where we carried out lots of activity to become closer as a group and push ourselves outside of our comfort zones.

The rest of my days are filled with learning about how to work all the different machines in the workshops and experimenting with CAD software.

Whilst being on site at Alpha we have been learning about all our health and safety responsibilities whilst in the workplace and starting our soapbox ideas in preparation for next march. As a small group we have settled on doing a Star Wars themed soapbox and will be starting the process of replicating it in the weeks to come.

Charlotte CAD DesignWith everything we have learnt over the month I have partially enjoyed the business side of the course, for example, business improvement and organised efficiency where we are looking at different types of production and currently creating our own standard operating procedures. My SOP covers the manufacturing of a golf club, so maybe you’ll see me playing in the golf society with my very own made golf club. It is really interesting to see what goes into the manufacturing process of everyday items that we all recognise.

Moving forward in my career I would like to branch out into the business side of things, such as Technical Sales or Marketing but it is important to me first before moving into that area of the business to know as much about the products we sell as possible. I am so exciting about the future of Alpha Manufacturing and would love to get the opportunity to work at the new Chemical Technologies site in Stafford opening next year!

Another one of my passions since moving into this industry is raising the profile of women in engineering and possibly going into schools to talk to pupils about all they can gain from an apprenticeship after leaving school. It is important to me that young girls can understand and visualise a modern engineering environment like Alpha, and see it as a space where you can achieve anything and go into so many exciting areas from aerospace to automotive and manufacturing. I believe that the different routes into industry should be projected more to children before leaving school who don’t think the traditional education only route is for them.

In the end, I hope to have a long and successful career in this industry and maybe even one day be like famous engineer Thomas Telford, a Managing Director like Paul Clews or even our very own Alpha Manufacturing welder Chloe Sales! Only time will tell, but what I do know is I will have full support from Alpha every step of the way in my future as an engineer. Watch this space…

There’s Still Time to Apply for Higher Apprenticeships at Bri-Stor Group

With 7 vacancies for Higher Apprenticeship roles across Bri-Stor Group, the scheme is the perfect opportunity to kickstart your career in a variety of roles.

Based in Hixon, Staffordshire, the Bri-Stor Group is looking for ambitious people who want to kickstart their career with a Higher Apprenticeship, with roles available across its four companies; Bri-Stor Systems, Alpha Manufacturing, Atlas Coating and Hex Signs and Graphics.

With an established and ever-growing Apprenticeship Programme, recruiting at least 13 engineering apprentices each year for the last 11 years, the Group is now looking to expand its scheme with the recruitment of a number of Higher and Level 3 and 4 Apprentices, across a variety of roles.

Group HR Manager, Karen Barnacle said: “This is an exciting time to join our business. After experiencing significant growth across all Group companies, we are looking for ambitious and driven people to support all areas of our dynamic business, while gaining recognised qualifications.

“This year’s intake marks the official launch of our Higher Apprenticeship programme. Having achieved such success previously with our Level 3 Engineering Apprentices, we believe this will be just as effective in producing the dynamic team members we need to take our business forward.”

The Mechanical and Electrical Engineering roles will take place in collaboration with Derby University, allowing successful applicants to work towards a degree while gaining hands-on experience, while also benefiting from their course being fully funded by the Bri-Stor Group.

Other roles will allow the apprentices to study towards a Level 3 or 4 qualification while gaining real-world experience in areas such as; purchasing and signage/graphics. With an already 500 strong work-force across the Bri-Stor Group, the Higher Apprentices will be supported by experienced and expert teams during their training and education.

Bri-Stor Group Apprenticeship Manager, William Davies-Hill added: “We are proud to have supported over 100 young students through our established Apprenticeship Programme and are now looking to strengthen our programme with the recruitment of 7 Higher Apprentices. Over the past decade, not only have all of our previous apprentices achieved exceptional pass rates, but all have continued onto full time positions within the company, contributing to the future success of the Group.

“Our hope is that with our record of outstanding support for our apprentices, this new intake will flourish in their roles and be an asset to our company as they start on their chosen career path.”

With these exciting opportunities still up for grabs, those interested in applying for the Higher Apprenticeship positions should go to:

For more information, please email our HR Team at

Alpha Welcomes New 1st Year Apprentices for Induction

Last week Alpha Manufacturing and Bri-Stor Systems welcomed our next generation of engineering apprentices on site for their induction, before they are due to start their course this September.

Apprentices AlphaThe Apprentices were met by Group Apprenticeship Manager, William Davies-Hill who talked them through their programme of study for the next three years and to receive all relevant work equipment, PPE and safety instructions. They were also taken on a tour of the Bri-Stor Group 35-acre site and state-of-the-art facilities.

Speaking about this year’s apprentice intake, William said: “I’m thrilled to have now inducted our next cohort of talented engineers to the Bri-Stor Group. This is always an exciting time for both the apprentices themselves as they take the next step in their career, but also for the company as we look forward to welcoming this new group of budding engineers into the company to start their official training with our trusted partner, the JCB Academy, and eventually on site to add their skills to our workforce.”

Having worked hard to pass the rigorous interview process, these young engineers were selected over ninety-five other potential candidates. As of September, they will begin one year of studying at JCB Academy four days a week with one day per week with their respective

Apprentice Inductioncompanies. Following this first twelve months, they will switch to four days with their companies and one at the academy for another twenty-four months.

The JCB academy have been training partners of the Bri-Stor Group for the past five years, providing the ideal setting to nurture local young engineering talent. The majority of those who have passed through the academy and onto either Alpha or Bri-Stor are now employed full time and making important contributions to their businesses.

Other apprentices have gone on to further education alongside their employment, such as Production Engineer Gemma Smith, who completed her degree in advanced engineering at Derby University, and Corey Hammond, who has made the leap from qualified engineer after the completion of apprenticeship, to Technical Sales Engineer, and is now pursuing a degree in Business and Management from the Open University.

This year, we will also be welcoming our first intake of Higher Apprentices, as we expand our Apprenticeship Programme to support more areas of the business such as Purchasing, Graphics and Marketing.

As well as a robust schedule of training, featuring a rotation programme allowing the apprentices to spend time in each area of the production process, the Apprentices will also have other activities to look forward to, such as designing and building soap box carts, reviewing areas of the business and analysing lean Manufacturing processes and a trip to Wales, where they will partake in team building activities. Some of the biggest challenges the apprentices will face are personal ones as they develop from school leavers into young men and women of the working world, but with our tried and tested programme in place, they will be supported every step of the way.

UCAS move to support apprenticeships directly targets apprenticeship stigma

“The news published today by UCAS that it will make it even easier for students to apply for apprenticeships is music to my ears”, remarks Karen Barnacle, Group HR Manager at Bri-Stor Group.  This announcement comes on the back of the news that about half of sixth formers are considering an apprenticeship as well as university.

Karen continues: “this is the first year we have formally launched our Higher Apprenticeship scheme and we will be taking on 11 students across a range of disciplines.  We have been overwhelmed by applicants, which demonstrates the appetite for high-quality vocational training.  We have been running an apprenticeship scheme for 11 years and each year we recruit around 15 students who embark on an exciting and dynamic career within our Group.  There is no question that attitudes towards apprenticeships are changing in a positive way and the more we can do to demonstrate the real value of an apprenticeship is incredibly valuable.”

A lack of information regarding apprenticeships is one of the biggest challenges facing students considering their options and the report published by UCAS cites ‘misplaced snobbery’ as one of the main deterrents for students.  Karen continues: “We have seen a big shift in attitudes from students and their families in the last few years, in the early days of our scheme we had very few applicants and each year the numbers increase.  All year round we receive interest from students trying to get ahead of the game and we welcome this tenacity.  We always invite parents to come and visit us too, making these huge choices about future career and education is likely to be the biggest decision a student has ever made – and we support them through that process.

“Our success story in the delivery of a fully accredited Apprenticeship Scheme is down to the relationship we have with local schools and colleges.  Many of the barriers to apprenticeships cited in the report is down to a lack of communication between employers and educational bodies, but this is an easy fix and we welcome the opportunity of sharing our best practice with others.  There’s no question, skills development is an absolutely critical priority for our local and national economic prosperity and we will continue to put our Apprenticeship Scheme at the very top of our business agenda.”

I take every opportunity to nurture our Apprentices – this is my opportunity to give back

When Paul Clews started his career at 16 as an Apprentice Engineer little did he know that by 43 he’d be the Managing Director of two of the region’s most dynamic engineering businesses – Alpha Manufacturing and Atlas Coatings.  With a career very much grounded ‘on the tools’, Paul’s hard graft and determination has earned him immense respect from colleagues across the Bri-Stor Group.

This is Paul’s story.  A bright lad with big ambitions, Paul had a passion for mechanics and design engineering. Completing his GCSEs, he had every option open to him to advance his education but struggled to see how A Levels and a degree would suit him. Paul shares his thoughts on his early career choices and how it has influenced his career today: “Right the way up to the completion of my GCSEs I thought I’d take the A Level and Uni route – I was pretty committed to an engineering degree, but something didn’t feel right.  It was through talking to a neighbour that I heard about an Apprenticeship Scheme at Belle Engineering and the penny dropped – the opportunity to earn money and gain engineering skills sounded like the perfect combination.”

Gaining an Apprenticeship at Belle Engineering with just two places available and 30 applicants was gruelling and Paul, tenacious even back then, gave it his all to secure a valuable place, Paul continues: “I worked hard to get onto the Apprenticeship, and this really spurred me on, I thought if I can be successful doing this, what else can I achieve?  The next four years were hard graft splitting my time between work and studying for my BTEC National Diploma in Engineering, but everything started to click.  Learning while working gives you such a solid grounding and I embraced every opportunity to learn all the shopfloor skills.

“In year three and four of my Apprenticeship I moved into office functions which really whet my appetite for all things design, it was in these two years that I really decided that I wanted to focus on becoming a Design Engineer. By year four, I’d achieved my HND in Engineering and if I’m being brutally honest the only poor choice I’ve made in my education and career was not grasping the opportunity to complete my full engineering degree. I think by that time I was really ready just to focus on work.”

For the next 10 years Paul progressed rapidly through his career from Tooling Design Engineer to Production Manager in just a few years.  It’s in his role as Production Manager that Paul cites the implementation of Lean Manufacturing principles as a career highlight – an accomplishment that is considered world-class amongst the manufacturing community. In 2010, Paul makes his move to Alpha Manufacturing as Production Manager and it’s here his career advances even further. Paul continues: “I’ve got so much respect for Belle Engineering; at the time I was there I was given every opportunity to further my career and that’s what drew me to the Bri-Stor Group and the role at Alpha Manufacturing. The opportunity to grow and achieve your full potential is a value that really stands out in this business.”

Today, Paul retains the same strength of character that spurred him on in his early career days as a 16-year-old Apprentice, and while he carries the huge responsibility of leading a team of over 200 people, he remains committed to the professional development of the people around him, he concludes: “Everybody deserves a chance to succeed and achieve their ambitions if they’re prepared to put the hard work in. I look back on my own career and I’m thankful to all the people that took the time out of their own day to show me the way. Now, almost 30 years on, I take every opportunity to nurture the Apprentices in this business, this really is my opportunity to give back.”

The tutors really respect us as working guys – not pupils

Nearing the completion of his NVQ in Mechanical Engineering at college, Stephan was weighing up options when he met Bri-Stor Group Apprenticeship Manager Will Davies-Hill, as he tells us: “I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do after completion of my NVQ but when Will visited my college and told us about the opportunities at Bri-Stor Group as an Apprentice I was really intrigued.”

Stephan took part in the Bri-Stor Group Open Day and was struck by the scale and professionalism of the business.  Immediately drawn to the manufacturing capabilities of Alpha, Stephan applied to join as an Apprentice in 2019.  Stephan tells us more: “We got the opportunity to see all the manufacturing equipment in action and I was really impressed by the Stopa and in particular the Bend Cell – seeing the huge levels of automation really changed my perception of sheet metal fabrication.  I think in my mind I was picturing a dirty workshop with a few bits of kit but Alpha couldn’t be further away from that perception – it’s a world-class business and as a consequence we’re involved in the manufacture and production of some pretty impressive fabricated products.”

Stephan really enjoyed year one and although there is a lot of classroom time at The JCB Academy, the relaxed, informal approach to teaching was perfect for Stephan’s learning style, as he expands: “we learnt a lot in year one but it didn’t feel like learning.  The tutors really respect the fact that we’re working guys, not kids, and that makes such a difference.”

In year two the Apprentices are part of the Rotation Programme and get the opportunity to experience every operational function in the business. “I’m enjoying some departments and process areas more than others, but that’s what this is all about – seeing what you like, and how that matches up to your skills,” explains Stephan.  “By being part of every function in the business, regardless of how much you like it, you can see the total process which is important.  Understanding the impact of one process on another dramatically improves efficiency and removes mistakes.”

Would you recommend the Alpha Manufacturing Apprenticeship Scheme?  “It’s a tough world right now and I feel secure in my role at Alpha.  I know the business is successful and being part of the Bri-Stor Group gives me huge confidence that I can pursue my career here and hopefully continue to gain higher qualifications.”

An Apprenticeship is the perfect opportunity to accelerate your career and earn a living.

“After my GCSEs I was pretty set on sixth form to be honest, but I felt like I was getting swept along with other students, rather than what I wanted to do”, explains third year Alpha Manufacturing Apprentice, Dan Gill.  “All my mates were choosing A ‘Levels and I really wanted to get away from the classroom and start earning a living.  The opportunity to get paid to learn really appealed to me so joining an Apprenticeship seemed like the perfect option.”

After finishing his GSCSEs Dan visited a few firms to look at their Apprenticeship Scheme and weighed up all his options, as he explains: “I looked at a few Schemes and immediately dismissed any Scheme that was too classroom-based.  I wanted a Scheme that would feel like hands-on work, accepting that I’d also have a lot to learn.  When I visited Alpha, I was completely overwhelmed by the world-class machinery and automation of the entire manufacturing process.  My dad’s an engineer and I’ve always been fascinated by anything with moving parts – even watches fascinate me, so Alpha completely bowled me over.  Another factor that swayed me was meeting our Apprenticeship Manager, Will Davies-Hill, he’s nothing like a teacher but is a really strong mentor and I felt immediately that Alpha was exactly what I was looking for.”

Now in his third year and reflecting on year one and two of the Apprenticeship Scheme, Dan is keen to tell other students considering an Apprenticeship that the Bri-Stor Group approach is way beyond the ‘school’ approach, as he continues: “I looked at the prospectus for Bri-Stor Group and I had many questions about year one at The JCB Academy, to be honest I still had some reservations on day one, but all those were set aside after the first few hours! The teaching is so engaging and it’s so hands-on, it feels like the best DT lesson you’ve ever had, and then you come back into the business and apply all that learning to the real-world, it’s so rewarding.”

Dan is an exemplary Apprentice and has shown grit and determination to succeed from the get-go, with a promising career in Alpha Manufacturing ahead of him, Dan is keen to continue with his education and balance a career, he says: “I love the maintenance rotation and the quality department is pretty cool, I’m learning all the time and because we’re getting such a well-rounded introduction to Alpha Manufacturing it’ll make it much easier to choose my eventual career path.”

 Would you recommend the Alpha Manufacturing Apprenticeship Scheme?  “If you’re not a fan of the classroom this is the perfect opportunity to really accelerate your career and earn a living at the same time.  I made the perfect choice by coming to Alpha and I know I’ve got a bright future ahead.”

Apprentice Kit Car Project 2020 – First Delivery of Parts Arrives

Alpha Apprentice manager Will Davies-Hill this week took delivery of something very special for his group of young engineers – an Ultima RS Supercar, in kit form.

The incredible car, manufactured by Ultima Sports will be delivered in three stages and this week saw the arrival of the frame, gear box, wiring loom and brake kit. Over the next eighteen months, third year Apprentices from Alpha Manufacturing and Bri-Stor Systems will come together to assemble the amazing machine under the guidance of Will.

Alpha Apprenticeship kit car project

In previous years Bri-Stor Group Apprentices have worked together to produce Caterham kit cars during a twelve-week team project. To date, three Caterhams have been produced by Bri-Stor Group Apprentices, with a day of driving them at Oulton park race track to look forward to once completed. This year, the bar has been raised for the young engineers with a much more complex and involved assembly required to produce the 800 horsepower, V8 Ultima RS.

Spending one day per week working on its construction, it’s expected that this build will take around 18 months to complete, as opposed to the 3 months required for a Caterham build. Once completed, it will be branded with livery from Bri-Stor Group graphics department Hex Signs and Graphics, just as the previous Caterham cars have been.

Alpha Apprentice Caterham Prjoects

Group Apprenticeship Manager Will Davies-Hill explains the value of a project like this:

“Our apprentices love this project every year, it’s quite unique. They get to be hands-on, working together on something different and exciting. It gives them a break away from their usual learning whilst still allowing them to develop team-working and engineering key skills. The pride the group have on completing a project like this is incredible and it’s always a talking point across the whole business when the finished article is unveiled.”

Due to begin in October, there is already a buzz amongst Alpha and Bri-Stor Apprentices keen to get started on the project and this first delivery of parts has further added to the excitement.


First Week Completed for Alpha’s New 1st Year Apprentices

Alpha’s latest intake of young engineering talent last week completed their first week as Apprentices with the company.

First year Apprentices of both Alpha Manufacturing and Bri-Stor Systems spent the beginning of the week at Bri-Stor Group training partner JCB Academy where they completed a series of team building activities, focusing on problem solving, design & build and communication skills. During their first year, the group will spend four days per week at the Academy working on engineering principles and theory, with one day per week spent with their respective companies. During the second year, this will switch, with the majority of their time spent in the work environment and only one day per week at the Academy.

Apprentice Team Building

The second part of last week for the group was spent on-site settling in to their new companies, adjusting to the new surroundings and learning processes and procedures. They were introduced to their programme of study in detail for the coming year and beyond, including team projects and events such as the annual Elan Valley trip and Soap-Box Derby event. The young engineers were keen to get stuck into life with the Bri-Stor Group and were full of questions about the business as they soaked in their new surroundings.

This year, twelve apprentices were accepted across the Bri-Stor Group from over one hundred and fifty applicants from the Staffordshire area. The Bri-Stor Group apprenticeship programme grown considerably over the past 10 years to become one of the most advanced and sought-after Engineering Apprenticeships in the Midlands, with many former Apprentices now in key positions within the business.

Applications for 2021 apprenticeships will soon be open for both Alpha and Bri-Stor, check back here for further updates and information.

Alpha’s Next Generation of Engineering Apprentices Inducted

The next intake of Alpha Manufacturing and Bri-Stor Systems Apprentices were on welcomed on site last week to be given their programme of study for the next three years and to receive all relevant work equipment, PPE and safety instructions.

Despite the current uncertain climate surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bri-Stor Group apprenticeship programme continues as usual, with the new starters joining during September. This underscores both Alpha and Bri-Stor’s long term commitment to developing young talent and investing in the future, despite the short term turbulence being experienced across all industries.

Having worked hard to pass the rigorous interview process, these 12 young engineers were selected over one hundred and fifty other potential candidates. As of September, they will begin one year of studying at JCB Academy four days a week with one day per week with their companies. Following this first twelve months, they will switch to four days with their respective companies and one at the academy for another twenty four months.

The JCB academy have been training partners of the Bri-Stor Group for the past five years, providing the ideal setting to nurture local young engineering talent. The majority of those who have passed through the academy and onto either Alpha or Bri-Stor are now employed full time and making important contributions to their businesses. Others have gone on to further education alongside their employment, supported by the company, such as Gemma Smith – Design Engineer, who recently completed her level four NVQ in advanced engineering at Derby University.

Gemma discussed her apprenticeship experience in a recent interview:


“I first heard about the Alpha Apprenticeship while at the JCB academy. I did my sixth form there and the Apprenticeship Manager told us about Alpha Manufacturing and that there was a job offer/ apprenticeship available. The reason I chose an Apprenticeship over University was because it seemed more practical. I’m more of a practical person anyway so the though of being able to do actual work and get training at the same time was kind of a no brainer.”

Having completed their inductions, the newest intake of apprentices have a full schedule of activities and events to look forward to as part of their studies including the annual soapbox derby, race car build project, Elan Valley team building trip and much more.

From all at Alpha Manufacturing, welcome aboard!

Bri-Stor Group Preparing to Welcome Local Students to Annual Apprenticeship Open Evening

This year’s apprenticeship open evening will be held on Thursday 13th Feb 5.30 -7.30 at the Bri-Stor Group manufacturing facilities in Hixon.

The ever-popular event offers young people interested in an engineering career the opportunity to discover what vocational options are available to them. In attendance will be current and former apprentices from both Alpha Manufacturing and Bri-Stor Systems, team managers and even company Directors to answer any questions on the night.

The evening will begin with a welcome by group apprentice manager William Davies-Hill before a full tour of Bri-Stor and Alpha facilities. This gives the young visitors and their parents the chance to see first hand the processes that take place, the machinery employed and the facilities as a whole. Following the tour, visitors are invited to attend a Q&A session where they can discuss in more depth the options available to them after school.

Many of Bri-Stor Group’s current and former apprentices visited the open evening before deciding to take an apprenticeship at either Alpha or Bri-Stor. They discuss this and much more about their experiences in the video below. Gemma Smith was one such apprentice, she discusses her reasons for choosing an apprenticeship over other options.

“The reason I chose to do an apprenticeship over University was more of the fact that it’s more practice. I’m more of a practical person anyway so the thought of being able to do actual work and get training at the same time was kind of like a no-brainer and I think it’s a no brainer for anyone who wants to work in engineering, or business or anything really.”

If you’re interested in a career in engineering, or even if you’re not sure what you’d like to do following school, simply register here and come along to our open evening at 5.30 on Thursday 13th Feb and see what a Bri-Stor Group apprenticeship has to offer!

Alpha Apprentices on the Road for 2020 Recruitment Drive

Current apprentices from Alpha Manufacturing and Bri-Stor Systems have begun the process of recruiting the next generation of young engineers to join the apprenticeship in 2020.

The 1st year apprentices will be accompanying apprenticeship manager Will Davies Hill as he visits various local schools to introduce them to the Bri-Stor Group. Presenting to year 11 students, they will discuss their experiences during their first year, covering training, projects, events and their studies so far.

This gives students who may currently be considering their post-high school options a unique insight into life at Alpha from an apprentice’s perspective. It also clearly shows the path for career progression with examples of past apprentices who now have important full-time roles within the business.

Over the next few months, Will and his young colleagues will visit as many of the local schools as possible, encouraging students to visit the annual apprentice open evening in February and to apply once applications open in the new year.