Founded in Walkden in 1976, the P.P. Group of Companies began life in the basement of a cotton mill and has grown into one of the UK’s leading independent metal profiling and processing companies. The Group provides profiling, processing and manufacturing services across a vast range of industries. There are four divisions that make up the P.P. Group: Plasma, Profiles, Protube and Processing.

Operating across three sites, in Gorton, Salford and St Helens, the Group employs almost 100 staff, and in recent years, the age profile of the workforce had begun to cause concern among the group’s senior management.  Group Technical Director, Sam Bentham explained:

“Our business is growing very well, but a lot of our experienced staff were approaching retirement age and we were struggling to recruit staff who had the skills we needed.  We had taken on apprentices occasionally in some parts of the business through the Skills Company, but we decided that we needed a more strategic approach to securing the skill base for the future of the group.”

“We looked at our workforce needs over the next few years, and planned our apprentice recruitment accordingly, not just in the workshops, but also in administration and sales.  We wanted to bring in ambitious and enthusiastic young people, and give them the skills and attitudes that we need to succeed as a business.  Most of our existing workforce started as apprentices in the past, so they are well placed to help our younger recruits to flourish in their careers.”

Josh Lindsay and Tom Bailey have recently started as apprentices at P.P. Processing in Gorton, having successfully completed the Skills Company’s 20 week engineering pre-apprenticeship course.  The 16 year olds, both from Tameside are on a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Fabrication.  Josh said:  “I think the fact that we did the pre-apprenticeship course means that we’re not starting from scratch.  We’ve got a lot to learn, but we’ve covered the basics of engineering on the course, and our skills are improving all the time in the workplace.” 

Tom added:  “I’m really enjoying working here.  Everyone has been easy to get on with, and they understand that we’re still learning so they are very patient with us.  Almost everyone here started as an apprentice, so they know how to help us to get the most out of our training.”

18 year old Niall Townley from Glossop also joined P.P. Processing after completing the engineering pre-apprenticeship.  After just over a year with the company, Niall is well on the way to completing his Level 3 Apprenticeship.  Niall said:  “I’m loving it here at P.P. and I feel like I’ve learned so much in a year.  I go to college one day a week, and the college training is totally relevant to what I’m doing at work.  As well as the apprenticeship framework, the company also has its own internal training programme, so I feel like I’m getting a great grounding for my career.  I’ve seen how other former apprentices have progressed in the business and I hope I can follow in their footsteps.”

Danny Hughes joined P.P. nine years ago as a Fabrication and Welding apprentice.  Danny said:  “I found the pre-apprenticeship course really useful, as it gave you a taste of different types of engineering, and I found that sheet metal work was what I enjoyed most.  I finished my apprenticeship in 2010, and now I’m a Production Foreman.  The company is now looking at putting me on some management training, again through the Skills Company.  I think it’s great that we are continuing to invest in the future by taking on more apprentices.  It can be a challenge balancing production with training, but at the end of the day it’s in everybody’s best interests, and the future of the company is looking good with the new blood that’s coming in.”

Matthew Bates is the Production Manager at P.P. Processing, and has day to day responsibility for apprentice training at the Gorton site.  Matthew said:  “We’ve always taken on apprentices, but our difficulties in recruiting skilled tradespeople with the skill-set that we need really accelerated the process.  We find that the recruits we take on from the pre-apprenticeship course have an impressive level of knowledge when they come to us, and it’s then up to us to mould them into the finished article.”

“We have our own well documented training programme which complements the apprenticeship framework, so that when they have completed their training, they are well rounded, skilled individuals.  We have a very good working relationship with the Skills Company, and we get good feedback on how our apprentices are doing at college and vice versa.”

Peter McCabe, P.P. Group Managing Director concluded:  “Football pundit Alan Hansen famously said that you can’t win anything with kids, and he was proved wrong when Manchester United went on to win the Premier League that season with youngsters at the heart of the team.  We firmly believe that by thinking and planning long term, and investing in youth, we’re identifying the future leaders of the PP Group, and securing the success of the group for years to come.”