NSL Automotive Components recruits apprentices

NSL Automotive Components, formerly Coventry Power Steering Specialists, are training the new recruits in readiness for electric power steering, which is forecast to overtake the more established hydraulic steering within the next couple of years.

The apprentices are just one of a series of measures implemented by NSL to support the company’s expansion.

Charlie Schofield, aged 18, a former Coundon Court pupil who lives in the Coundon area of the city, is one of the new recruits.

While at school Charlie had worked at a number of jobs, including labouring and a bike technician. He also worked with his dad Gary, a bespoke carpenter.

Although he fully qualified as a bike technician he grabbed the opportunity to join NSL, believing the company offered more scope for growth and development.

Now through his apprenticeship with NSL he is studying a City & Guilds in advanced electrical engineering, a four-year course which by the end Charlie will be a fully-fledged advanced electrical engineer.

Charlie said, ’I didn’t really know what to expect when I came here, but one thing I very quickly learned is we’re all in it together as a team and we all muck in to get the job done.

‘On my first day I didn’t even really know what a power steering rack was but already I know how to strip them down and put them back together. It’s been a real learning curve but I know I’m still at the tip of the iceberg and am continuing to learn new things every day.

‘Ultimately my goal is to keep working hard and to see where it takes me. I’m lucky really as I came across this opportunity by chance. If I could go back a year I would actively seek out such an opportunity. At school we only really ever hear about the importance of A Levels and apprenticeships are not really presented as an option. I knew A Levels wouldn’t be for me but the apprenticeship already is reaping dividends – it is much more up my street.’

Zachariah Brooks, aged 20, of Canley, had already completed Uniform Public Services Level 3 by the time he discovered NSL. Despite his success he realised a life in uniform was not for him. He signed up to another course in engineering – which he passed at Level 2. But he quit his studies at Level 3, realising he was more suited to the opportunity of an apprenticeship with NSL.

Zach, who is studying the same course as Charlie, said: “I was really impressed when I met with the MD Mick and came to see NSL. It seemed like a company which was going places and knew in which direction it was headed.

‘It is hard work at the moment. We’re working here, then at the college and there is quite a bit of theory work from college to take home – but the atmosphere here is great. All of us on the apprenticeship scheme benefit from a lot of mentoring and there are always demonstrations and tips for us. I’ve learned so much in such a short space of time and when I finish the course, if I am given the opportunity to stay here, I would grab it with both hands.’

Rupert Russell, aged 18 of Canley Gardens, is a former Blue Coat School pupil who achieved five A* to C grades at GCSE but turned down a place at 6th form. Although he wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do he knew A Levels were not right for him. He had also previously worked with his uncle in plumbing and had been offered to join his business, but said that didn’t feel right either.

Rupert said, ‘I decided to look at what was on offer in the form of apprenticeships. I had quite a few interviews then through City College I was invited to come here to NSL, where I was offered a position. I saw it as a great opportunity and now I am studying for a B-Tec Level 2 in engineering.

‘Before my interview I hadn’t thought about manufacturing as a career and in all honesty I didn’t really know much about it. But it sounded excellent. It has certainly lived up to my expectations.

‘Although the processes are the same, I’m forever working on different types of racks with different components so every rack brings a new experience. It’s a real learning curve but that’s great. In the not too distant future electrical power steering will take over and this is why we have been brought in to train up at NSL.

‘I love the practical side of things and am aiming to go as far as I can in this career, although I think I would always like to stay on the practical side rather than in an office.

‘It’s a case of seeing how far I can progress on the floor.’

Elliot Cockburn, aged 16, found out about NSL and the opportunity for an apprenticeship through his school friend Adam Sadler.

The former Cardinal Newman pupil, who lives in Holbrooks, said a general chat about Adam’s new career with NSL sparked his interest. Upon Adam’s advice, he sent his CV in to NSL and was delighted when called for an interview.

He said, ‘I love cars although motorbikes are my passion. But I’d never really given much thought as to how cars and bikes were put together. It’s still early days here at NSL but the way in which we will be trained at the company sounds excellent – really exciting. Three months on every stage of the manufacturing process – including the strip, the test, the build and spray painting. It will give us a real insight into the company as a whole and a real grasp for the whole process.’

Elliot is aiming to move on to an advanced apprenticeship and then an NVQ before climbing further up the manufacturing pyramid.

Adam, who lives in Keresley End, had always known he would like to enter into a career in engineering. He focused on one application only – to NSL – and was delighted when he landed the position.

He said, ‘I’d looked up NSL and specifically applied here as I could see it would be a great place to get to grips with the trade and to progress and climb the ladder.

‘When I met with Mick and heard his achievements and ambitions for NSL it sounded fantastic and I couldn’t wait to be a part of it.

‘The great thing too is in the short time we have been here the company has already expanded and is continuing to do so. From day one we were told that as the company expands so will our roles, so there is so much scope for movement within NSL.’

Adam said his immediate ambition is to complete his B-Tec Level 2 in Engineering before thinking of other opportunities such as managerial or sales roles.

He said, ‘We are a strong team with a good amount of banter but our primary focus is getting the job done. And when one of us needs help it is there. I’m not sure you’d get the same level of support we’ve been offered in any other company.

‘It has been a great experience coming to NSL. I would urge anyone thinking of applying for an apprenticeship to go for it. The training is excellent and in my view it is much better than rushing into a full-time job which doesn’t necessarily offer the same level of training or the same opportunities for development over the long-term. When you see something you like, go for it and grab it with both hands.’

Acquired by employee Mick Parsons in August 2013, NSL Automotive Components achieved a £1m turnover in its first year in operation. That figure is set to rise to £1.2m by the end of the second year.

Having outgrown its home in St Agatha’s Road, Coventry, the company recently expanded into a second home on the New Inn Industrial Estate in the city, with a view to expanding operations and recruiting more staff.

The boom is down to changes in power steering which have opened up new opportunities in the reconditioned market. Today the number of cars on the road with electric steering racks stands at less than 50%, but within the next year that proportion is set to rise to three-quarters – a trend which Mick forecasts will boost his business by up to 70%.