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Published: 6th March 2019

Leeds auto engineering firm expands apprenticeship programme


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Vehicle engineering business SM UK is to expand its apprenticeship programme to support the firm’s national growth plans.

The Leeds-based firm took on its first apprentices in 2014 and has since created ten apprenticeship roles, all of whom have remained with the business. With the launch last year of a new 10,000 sq ft vehicle conversion centre in Leeds, and plans to open a further centre in the Midlands later this year, the business intends to recruit a further two apprentices in the coming months.

SM UK, which was started by founder Steve MacDonald from his garden shed in 2000, has grown to employ more than 50 people in Leeds and across the UK. Working with clients including Scania, DAF and Volvo Trucks, SM UK designs and fits vehicle safety and awareness systems and carries out conversion and refit projects for commercial vehicles.

“We recruited our first apprentices five years ago now and it’s a testament to their commitment to the business, as well as our determination to create a really positive environment for all our staff, that these guys are all still working with us, now as full-time auto electrical engineers,” said SM UK managing director Steve MacDonald.

“It’s fantastic to see how an apprenticeship programme enables people to develop talents and skills they might not have even known they had the potential for. We also find that very often apprentices can offer a fresh perspective on the business.”

Jamie Baxendale, who started at SM UK in Leeds as an apprentice in 2017 and is now a fully qualified auto engineer, said: “As an apprentice I was able to gain hands-on experience from day one, which quickly helped me to progress and become familiar with what goes on at SM UK. It also fed into the college studies I was doing alongside my work. The apprenticeship was a fantastic way to start out on my career in auto engineering.”

SM UK’s apprentices are currently located across the country in Leeds, Rochdale and Birmingham and the new positions will be Midlands-based. The planned Midlands vehicle conversion centre will enable SM UK to provide a full installation and conversion service for its clients based in the region.

SM UK’s 56-strong workforce are employed across its Leeds headquarters and nationwide fleet of mobile engineers. The firm’s HALO cyclist awareness system was shortlisted for the Brake Fleet Safety Awards in 2018.