Luke Thomas, who is looking to study a Chartered Management Degree alongside his role with the Needham Group in Whitchurch, was a recipient of the prestigious Arkwright Engineering Scholarship in 2019 and has used the commercial and mentoring support available to take his first steps on a career in engineering.

The 18-year-old is now looking to use his experience and passion for ‘making things’ to inspire pupils at his former school, recently completing a talk in front of Year 11 pupils at Meole Brace School in Shrewsbury.

He gave the simple message that ‘you can change the world with engineering’ and the vast opportunities available to young people to work on the latest technologies and develop skills that could see you travel all over the world.

“The Arkwright Engineering Scholarship has been such a huge boost to my early education and career, giving me financial support to help me complete my A-Levels and also access to valuable contacts and networks that have so much experience to offer,” explained Luke, who is currently studying for his private pilot licence.

“The scholarship really gave me the encouragement to pursue a career in engineering and I wanted to give that message back to my peers in the hope that they see the benefit of such a prestigious scholarship.”

He continued: “I’ve been working at Needham Group for the last six months, progressing from a trainee laser technician to a junior project engineer and I am loving every minute of it, working in the different divisions to give me a taste of all areas of the business so I can decide which area to specialise in.”

The relationship with Needham Group started in the summer when Luke had purchased his own laser cutting machine to help manufacture more than 2000 ‘S clips’ he donated to the NHS.

He contacted Managing Director Aled Ellis with a technical question and, after an initial breakdown in communication, was invited to the firm’s HQ on Waymills Industrial Estate to meet the team, have a tour of the facility and explore the technology available in more depth.

It was a meeting that turned into a job offer, with the company impressed with his self-taught knowledge of lasers and his passion for learning new things.

Aled Ellis, Managing Director of Needham Group, went on to add: “We are growing rapidly across our specialist coding, ink and laser technologies businesses and are looking to take on 30 new staff over the next three years.

“At the heart of this will be a real focus on developing the engineers and professionals of the future and Luke is our first commitment to this. He blew us away when we met him and it was an easy decision to offer him a position, a decision that we’re delighted with seeing the immediate impact he’s had.

“His Chartered Management Degree should start shortly and throughout that we’ll ensure he has lots of support from our technical staff so that he can develop his skills even further. Getting more young people into manufacturing and, importantly into our engineering disciplines, is a major priority for us.”

Luke concluded: “I’ve learned so much in such a short space of time and I’ve already got my sights on Aled’s job.”

Needham Group has launched an expansion blueprint that will see it more than treble revenues between now and 2025.

Founded by Roger Needham in 1962, the firm is looking to achieve this target by boosting export activity across its three divisions, increased investment in marketing, extending distribution networks and developing capacity to take on more bespoke projects.