And the milestone was commemorated in a special evening ceremony that concluded with a tribute video from Birmingham Mayor, Andy Street.

Leading engineering business, adi Group, has celebrated the achievements of students on its pre-apprentice scheme since 2016, with this year’s graduation evening taking place last Thursday (10 Sept) over the now-familiar Zoom format due to COVID-19.

Proud parents and students gathered online, as senior adi personnel and programme mentors revealed that all twelve pre-apprentices in the Class of 2020 passed the rigorous course, with four distinctions and eight merits among the esteemed group.

“This was really encouraging news given the current economic climate,” said adi CEO, Alan Lusty.

“Businesses of all shapes and sizes have had some difficult decisions to make over the course of the past few months, not least our own, but we are pleased to be strengthening our commitment to young people and the engineering sector at a time when many youngsters are desperate to get their foot on the careers ladder.

“I started in the industry as an apprentice myself, so I know the importance of giving back to this really inspiring and talented bunch of students that will hopefully go on to have successful careers in our sector and beyond.”

The adi pre-apprenticeship scheme began life in 2016 as a link was forged between nearby North Bromsgrove High School and the engineering company, aiming to help foster youth skills development across the Midlands. This partnership with the school is truly mutual, with both parties achieving opportunity via the students taking up one of the annual 12 pre-apprenticeship places.

It was launched by then Birmingham Northfield MP Richard Burden and has since gone on to receive a number of plaudits, not least from former Prime Minister, Theresa May, who visited the company’s headquarters for a tour of the facilities and programme in 2018 and praised adi Group during PMQs.

Fully 50% of the scheme’s first and second year intakes are still with adi today and the business remains committed to youth skills development with its sign-up to the 5% Club, an initiative designed to raise the number of apprentices on formal programmes to five percent of the total workforce within five years.

“What we’ve done at adi is continue to shine the spotlight on the importance of inspiring the next generation of engineers,” added Group strategic account director, James Sopwith.

“The services and the skill sets we’re inspiring provide support to the manufacturing sector, which is only in rising demand as the UK looks to bounce back from the current economic crisis.

“More closely, what we feel is most important is fostering a sense of connection at a local level between businesses and educational institutions, so that each feels the reward of building a sustainable pathway to the engineers of tomorrow.”

News of adi’s pre-apprenticeship milestone comes as the government recently announced its new Kickstart scheme designed to get disadvantaged youngsters into working roles.

With adi having developed its own starter pack for other businesses to replicate its pre-apprenticeship programme, it is hoped such schemes can help the UK turn the tide on bleak unemployment forecasts and begin to bridge the STEM skills gap.

“It’s so important for our region to have the skills that adi Group’s pre-apprenticeship provides, and this year’s graduation is a great tribute to the work Alan and the team at adi have put in over the last 5 years.” added Birmingham Mayor Andy Street.