Introducing Prodrive - Cherwell Business Awards Apprenticeship of the Year finalists

Congratulations to Prodrive in Banbury on being selected as one of our Cherwell Business Awards Apprenticeship of the Year finalists 2017! Read on to find out what drives the firm's passion for Apprenticeships...

Prodrive was established in 1984 and is best known as a motorsport organisation which competes on the world stage in rally and on the track. The motorsport company is now part of a broader business and is joined by Prodrive Advanced Technology, an engineering design consultancy and Prodrive Composites, which manufactures lightweight carbon fibre components. Prodrive AT and Composites take Prodrive’s motorsport ethos and supply innovative products and solutions to premier manufacturers in the automotive, marine and aerospace sectors.

World class Apprentices

Prodrive are a projects orientated business and so demand for Apprentices fluctuates depending on what programmes they have at any given moment and what they know is on the horizon. In 2015, a programme to make parts for a well-known supercar saw them take on 40 Apprentices in their composites business and in the last 3 years, they have taken on nearly 60 Apprentices in the composites sector. Within Prodrive AT last year, they recruited an advanced Apprentice on the assembly side and on the motorsport side recent years have seen them take on Apprentice mechanics, fabricators, engine builders and electrical Apprentice Ethan Rowlands (pictured).

HR Manager Shaun Clayton says: “We know what it takes to become a world champion having won the WEC championship in 2016. Exposed to our culture, our Apprentices become incredibly valuable incredibly quickly with the experience and exposure they get here at Prodrive.” 

“In addition to supporting our Apprentices with release time to continue their studies, we have an accelerated salary escalator in place to match salary with an Apprentice’s experience and capability. This results in significant bi-annual salary reviews in line with a review of their performance and development. Apprentices will typically be on the escalator for 6 years by which point they are usually earning the equivalent of their experienced colleagues.” 

“We actively encourage them to continue with their studies and the forthcoming Apprenticeship Levy will mean us investing even more in their ongoing development.”

Some employees who started as Apprentices have since transitioned to become engineers, with Prodrive funding degree programmes for them. Others are still being challenged as hands-on senior technicians supporting customer events around the world. Their race team in particular fast tracks its Apprentices, with the professional teams staffed almost entirely with previous Prodrive Apprentices.

Inspiring future Apprentices

Prodrive have developed strong relationships with local schools and colleges, offering a number of work experience placements, including Science Oxford’s STEM experience week. Shaun gave a series of talks at Banbury Academy this April and the firm will once again mentor students from North Oxfordshire Academy as part of their Career Ready programme.  They are partners to several local UTCs and also offer many schools and colleges tours around their facilities. All of these activities help them to create a healthy and diverse pipeline of talent, with encouraging women into engineering a particular interest.

The Apprentice view

Prodrive’s Electrical Apprentice, Ethan Rowlands, joined the firm in 2015. He says: “I’m making coil and steering wheel looms on my own and am well down the path of becoming a fully skilled technician. When people think of motorsport they natural think of mechanics but in a large organisation such as Prodrive, the opportunities are far broader and include fabricators, machinists and engine builders. The specialist skills I’m developing are highly sought after in the motorsport industry but being part of the race team and competing in the world championship is just a dream come true.”