Buck­ley Sys­tems lays down ap­pren­tice chal­lenge

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - NEWS - www.demm.co.nz/reader- en­quiry #160712

Buck­ley Sys­tems, the in­no­va­tive man­u­fac­turer of pre­ci­sion elec­tro­mag­nets, is chal­leng­ing New Zealand’s man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try to sup­port larger num­bers of ap­pren­tices.

The com­pany, which is based in the Auck­land sub­urb of Mt Welling­ton, is ex­pand­ing its num­ber of ap­pren­tices from 11 to 20 by the mid­dle of next year.

“We want to en­cour­age other in­dus­tries to get in and sup­port NZ to the same ex­tent,” said San­dra De Kock, Buck­ley Sys­tem’s Head of Peo­ple De­vel­op­ment and Cul­ture.

“NZ In­dus­try needs peo­ple with more prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge,” she said.

Buck­ley Sys­tems has a 36-year his­tory of man­u­fac­tur­ing ion im­plan­ta­tion and par­ti­cle ac­cel­er­a­tion sys­tems in New Zealand, while re­sist­ing ap­proaches to move pro­duc­tion off­shore.

With former tech­ni­cal in­sti­tutes chang­ing to more aca­demic univer­sity type cour­ses, the grad­u­ates be­ing pro­duced have strong the­o­ret­i­cal knowl­edge but lim­ited prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion, said Mrs De Kock. “There are a lot of smart young kids out there who don’t want to do univer­sity cour­ses but have plenty of ca­pa­bil­ity to un­der­take com­plex en­gi­neer­ing chal­lenges.”

Buck­ley Sys­tems cur­rently has 11 ap­pren­tices and ex­pects to have 18 by the end of the year and 20 in 12 months’ time.

Mrs De Kock said the ex­pan­sion of Buck­ley Sys­tems’ ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gramme would sup­port its fu­ture growth and en­sure it had the right peo­ple with the right skills on board.

“We’re in­vest­ing in a skills pro­gramme and look­ing at our needs 10 years down the road. We need skills for the fu­ture.”

As part of its ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gramme, Buck­ley Sys­tems is also run­ning a pre-ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gramme so po­ten­tial ap­pren­tices can un­der­stand the var­i­ous trades avail­able and which one might suit them best.

Dur­ing the six-month course pre-ap­pren­tices get a taste of fab­ri­cat­ing, ma­chin­ing, com­puter nu­mer­i­cal con­trol, elec­tri­cal and the main­te­nance trades, which are four year ap­pren­tice­ships with some for­mal study, usu­ally at Manukau In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy.

Mrs De Kock be­lieves it is unique. “No­body else does it like this. At the end of the six months the ap­pren­tice has al­ready achieved a lim­ited credit pro­gramme and has made an in­formed choice of ca­reer path.”

For part of the six months the pre-ap­pren­tices also spend some time in Buck­ley Sys­tems’ as­so­ci­ated com­pany, BSL Racing, build­ing speedway race cars.

Buck­ley Sys­tems has en­gaged a Tech­ni­cal Train­ing Part­ner or “Ap­pren­tice Mas­ter” for its ap­pren­tice­ship scheme, Richard Protheroe, who also works with lo­cal schools, MIT, Com­pe­tenz and Skills New Zealand to co­or­di­nate and man­age the pro­gramme. Buck­ley Sys­tems has also al­lo­cated space for a De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre to sup­port skills train­ing and sup­ports the com­ple­tion of an ad­di­tional credit pro­gramme for ap­pren­tices.

“The broader skills base of our ap­pren­tices makes them more ver­sa­tile,” said Mr Protheroe.

The com­pany’s founder Bill Buck­ley has a phi­los­o­phy of not wait­ing for things to hap­pen. “If we need it we do it our­selves,” said Mrs De Kock.

“Bill has proved it’s pos­si­ble to carry out prof­itable high tech­nol­ogy pro­duc­tion in New Zealand.”

Buck­ley Sys­tems has also en­cour­aged qual­i­fied ap­pren­tices to seek broader ex­pe­ri­ence else­where, often overseas as part of their O.E.

“They come back with broader knowl­edge and crit­i­cal think­ing and can slot back into the cul­ture here, be­cause they know how the com­pany op­er­ates,” said Mrs De Kock.

100 per­cent of Buck­ley Sys­tems’ pro­duc­tion is ex­ported and is used in semi­con­duc­tor man­u­fac­ture, on­col­ogy treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties, med­i­cal and sci­en­tific di­ag­nos­tic de­vices and physics re­search fa­cil­i­ties.

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