National Apprenticeship Week

National Apprenticeship Week: Shaping the Future Workforce

National Apprenticeship Week, 5th February - 11th February 2024, serves as an annual celebration of apprenticeships and their invaluable contribution to shaping the future workforce.

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At JJ Smith, apprenticeships are viewed as a fundamental strategy for equipping employees with the knowledge and skills they need for success. This ethos isn’t a recent development but has been woven into the fabric of their operations since the company began over one hundred years ago in 1923.

JJ Smith, a 4th generation owned and managed family business, supply cutting-edge woodworking machinery and automation solutions to the woodworking manufacturing industry. Their customers range from the offsite construction industry, to furniture production and specialist manufacturers of solid wood products.

Over the years, collaborations with local schools and organisations like AllAboutSTEM have highlighted the benefits of apprenticeships beyond their immediate sphere. By actively engaging with the community, JJ Smith are not only broadening the reach of their apprenticeship program but also increasing awareness about the potential of apprenticeships as viable career paths.

Over half of the workforce at JJ Smith comprises either current or former apprentices, spanning across various job roles, including up to director level. This underscores their belief in the effectiveness of apprenticeships as a pathway to success, irrespective of your starting point within the company.

Managing Director, Rachael Baker, comments: "As a company, we have always championed apprenticeships as the best way of equipping employees with the knowledge and skills required for success. This commitment has been ingrained in our operations from the outset and we have always been passionate about hiring apprentices as part of our team. Since our "We Invest in Apprentices Silver" accreditation, our apprenticeship programme has flourished through collaborations with local schools and organisations like AllAboutSTEM. Together, we're expanding awareness of apprenticeships as viable career paths for young people in Knowsley and the broader Liverpool City Region.

As National Apprenticeship Week unfolds, let’s put the spotlight on some of JJ Smith’s current apprentices and how they have become empowered through structured training and hands-on experience.

Michael Keegan, Engineering/Sales Apprentice

“Transitioning from engineering to sales during my apprenticeship, I've received invaluable support and access to sales courses, enriching my skill set. I've relished the opportunity to travel to various countries and embraced a diverse range of tasks. Along the way, I've honed mechanical and electrical skills, while also gaining insights into teamwork and meeting deadlines.

Danny Bennett, Qualified Engineer

I’m extremely proud to recently complete my apprenticeship to become a fully qualified engineer. It’s been a challenge, but very rewarding. I’ve overcome obstacles and learnt new skills through hands-on experience and mentorship, giving me the confidence to tackle engineering challenges head-on. I’m looking forward to a successful career in engineering as part of a company dedicated to investing in its workforce.

Josh Wilkinson, Apprentice Engineer

Being two years into my engineering apprenticeship at JJ Smith has been an eye-opening journey. From learning electrical and mechanical skills, to automation and robotics, I’m witnessing firsthand how automation is shaping the future of woodworking. I'm grateful for the opportunity to develop my skills with a forward-thinking company.

If you’d like to find out more about apprenticeship opportunities at JJ Smith, get in touch with us by visiting

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