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Apprenticeship scheme tackles metals recycling ‘brain-drain’

emr and bmra apprenticeship launch

The first sector-specific metals recycling apprenticeship has been launched in a bid to attract new talent, create better career paths and promote the sector as a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) employer.

The Metal Recycling General Operative (MRGO) is a level 2 apprenticeship open to employees of any age and takes 12-18 months to complete. It can be tailored to suit yards of any size.

It has been launched against a backdrop of fears that the sector is experiencing a brain-drain of talent as smaller, family-run yards close because the younger generation do not want to carry on with the business. 

The pilot phase has apprentices from ELG, EMR, Recycled Products, Recycling Lives, S Sackers, S Norton and Sims Metal Management.

At the official launch held yesterday (5 November) at EMR metals recyclers in Willesden, north-west London, the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) said it saw the scheme as a “first step” in promoting the sector as a STEM employer.

The association plans to work with organisations that promote metals recycling and STEM.

BMRA president Susie Burrage said: “The Government apprenticeship levy gives small and medium-sized businesses the opportunity to train employees in skills that are relevant to metals recycling.

“By supporting the industry from the ground up and giving young people the necessary training in key business areas, we hope that we can plug the skills gap and keep metals recycling at the forefront of the circular economy.”

Areas of knowledge needed to fulfil an operative role in a metal recycling yard, covered on the scheme, will include: environmental policy and procedures such as fire prevention plans; how to work in accordance with current legislation, including the Scrap Metal Dealers Act 2013; how to accept hazardous/non-hazardous materials; and industry-specific health and safety procedures such as Safe Systems of Work and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health.

The BMRA added that, “in an unusual move” for a level 2 apprenticeship, there is an opportunity to specialise in one of five areas: weighbridge, material classification, end-of-life vehicles, materials handling, and waste electrical and electronic equipment.

Sector training and standards body Wamitab has been accepted onto the Register of Approved End-Point Assessment Organisations to deliver end-point assessment for the MRGO.

Wamitab Assessment will operate as a service separate from its activities as an awarding organisation.

Chief executive Chris James said: “Wamitab looks forward to working further with partners in the metals recycling sector whose operatives will benefit from a first class apprenticeship assessed by the industry professionals at Wamitab.”

The apprenticeship was approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA), which also helped to develop the standard.

Sir Gerry Berragan, IfA chief executive, said: “I want to congratulate the industry as a whole for developing the new apprenticeship and end point assessment.

“This is a fine example of one of the key things that we are trying to achieve through the Institute – the introduction of new high quality apprenticeships to sectors that have not had them before.

“Each new apprenticeship starts with a blank sheet of paper and takes a huge amount of hard work and dedication to get it to a point where it is ready to launch from the trailblazing employers.

“I know it is not an easy process, and was delighted to be able to help them celebrate reaching this point.”

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