One nice thing about the internet is that it's easy to stumble onto something useful while looking for something different. That's how I learned about the apprentice program at UK-based Trend Control Systems.

At a time when the demand for engineers seems to outstrip the supply, and with no small number expected to retire in the coming decade, I'd say they have the right idea. A sustainable, grow-your-own attitude doesn't have to be limited to building design and vegetables, now, does it? Here's the story, via their website:

Trend Control Systems is supporting the long-term interests of the building services industry through an ongoing campaign to attract apprentices. Its efforts this year resulted in 50 Apprenticeships in Building Services Engineering, out of 550 who responded to the campaign. Seven are employed directly by Trend, the remainder by 26 Trend partner companies – independent building system integrators who install Trend products.

“The UK building services industry will suffer if the present lack of trained Building Service engineers is allowed to continue, while we and our partners need trained technicians to maintain business growth”, observed Tim Darkes, Managing Director of Horsham-based Trend Control Systems, a specialist in building management systems.

“For many years, Trend has successfully recruited and trained apprentices; providing them with certificated qualifications, along with Trend product training and hands-on learning. However, Trend partners have not always been able to match this resource, so they requested our help to fill the industry-wide need for new technicians”.

“The fact that we received 550 applications this year shows clearly that many young people are attracted to a technical career in building services. We hope those we were unable to employ are successful in finding training elsewhere within the industry”.

This year, Trend also took the innovative step of collaborating with a local college, Central Sussex College in Crawley, as part of the Government-sponsored Engineering and Technology Board’s (ETB) “Lecturers into Industry” pilot program. This scheme brings local businesses together with college lecturers in engineering and science subjects, to help lecturers understand authentic business practices and challenges. They can then incorporate this “real world” knowledge into the college curriculum.

Trend supported the scheme by inviting a lecturer from Central Sussex College to spend significant time in each of its engineering departments, to understand the skills needed, so its training provision can match requirements.