MGN Insight – Reaping the benefits of apprentices

By Philip Cunliffe, Regional Business Editor at Insider

The head of a Gateshead manufacturing business has spoken about the difficulties of getting the right young apprentices into the business.

Kate Wickham, the Managing Director of decal manufacturer Gate 7, was interviewed by Insider for the first edition of the Manufacturing Growth Network (MGN).

Kate Wickham, MD of Gateshead based specialist print manufacturer Gate 7

Kate Wickham, MD of Gate 7

Gate 7, which was founded by Kate’s father Keith, tops the league table for Apprenticeships in the MGN. It currently has 42 employees and three apprentices on its Apprenticeship Scheme. These are employed in some of the key divisions of the business.

Kate Wickham said: “The key thing for us has been finding the right apprentices; finding the people with the skills that we can then develop has been a real challenge.

“It can be very difficult to make judgments on people’s abilities just by looking at a CV, especially that of a 16-year old who has very limited experience. We like to get people in, meet them face-to-face and to trust our instincts as to whether they’re suitable or not.”

With major UK clients such as JCB, Caterpillar and Komatsu on the books, Gate 7 is also a successful exporter. So successful in fact that exports today make up 60 per cent of Gate 7’s revenues and Kate Wickham has been honoured with an MBE for Services to Export and Outward Investment.

The interview with Kate Wickham is part of the first edition of the Manufacturing Growth Network which also includes the first set of tables of the North East’s best performing manufacturing businesses in the previous quarter of 2017 based on Turnover, Productivity, Exports and Apprenticeships.

MGN is a partnership between NRG, EY, Square One Law and Lloyds Bank and backed by EEF.  For further information on how you get involved with MGN which is completely free for manufacturing businesses to join contact Julie Mordue.

To read the full interview with Kate Wickham, click here. The tables can be accessed here.