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Semta Skills Awards 2020: Nominations deadline extended until 11th December 2019

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SME Investment in Skills 2019 Winner’s Story: Pentaxia

Talking to Pentaxia Managing Director Stephen Ollier, it’s clear that the company believe in the power of their people. Judging by the success of the Derby-based composite manufacturer in many national awards, the company is not alone in it’s thinking.

“Our proudest achievement is that we started 10 years ago with 3 people and today we have 145,” says Stephen. “We train a lot of people. We’ve brought what we call ‘ mid-career people in’. They’re people that have come from other careers. They may be in their 30s, 40s and even 50s and they come into our industry and they learn new skills and they bring real benefits, different experiences, different attitudes, but they all want to succeed. As we grow we will bring more and more people into the industry.”

This method of training and development was instrumental in catching the attention of the judging panel at the Semta Skills Awards 2019. At this year’s awards (a prestigious ceremony that celebrates the best of the British engineering and advanced manufacturing sectors) Pentaxia won two national awards: an accolade for ‘SME Investment in Skills’ as well as the ‘Best of British Engineering Award’.

“It was a pleasant thing to win and it was really good to celebrate the people who have been involved with the project,” says Stephen. “It gives the team here, the confidence that they are doing a really good job and to a certain extent maybe doing a few things other people aren’t doing. Like every company, we’re always striving to improve and be the best and we have a slogan here: ‘be the best you can today be better tomorrow’. So we’re always aiming to do better and better and better.”

The business continues to grow from strength to strength and, like many UK companies within the sector, has weathered the storm of uncertainty brought on by Brexit. “We were traditionally growing at 40% per annum and then in August the world stopped because of Brexit,” explains Stephen. “We do a lot of work for luxury automotive manufacturers and we had about £6 million of work put on hold because they suddenly found they were not selling cars. A lot of UK industry went into a time of not making any decisions, not placing any orders, going into a holding pattern with the Brexit situation. Things seem to be improving quite a bit.”

Stephen Olliier is a firm believer in the legacy of British engineering. This is reflected in his and the company’s philosophy towards manufacturing: “I believe we need to have the ‘Rolex philosophy’ for the UK. We need to take a small amount of material and apply magnificent manufacturing processes and produce a world-class product that the world wants to pay a premium for. I think that’s where UK manufacturing has to be. So it has to be at the top end of capability and skills development, training and development is really fundamental to achieving that.” It’s evident that training and development run in the lifeblood of Pentaxia both now and in the future as Stephen further explains: “I’m sure we have a great future. We have a great future because of our people who are training to the highest levels.”

The Pentaxia Managing Director further extols the virtues of skills development and the faith he has in the employer-led skills body supporting the sector: “Semta does amazing work actually. I think a lot of people are very much tied up in the day to day running of their businesses and sometimes training is a long term result thing. I promise you it isn’t. If you do it properly and you think about training for your specific needs you can produce results very quickly. I’m sure Semta makes a huge contribution towards that.”

Enter your nominations now for The SME Investment in Skills Award category for The Semta Skills Awards 2020.

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