King’s Lynn’s Palm Paper leads the way in apprenticeship scheme - and other paper mills are following suit

Palm Paper apprenticeships. Pictured are (from left) Cameron Hendry, Oliver Kivlin, Billy Hofert and

Palm Paper apprenticeships. Pictured are (from left) Cameron Hendry, Oliver Kivlin, Billy Hofert and James Carton. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

German-owned manufacturer Palm Paper has led the way in its pioneering apprenticeship scheme - and now other paper mills are following suit.

At Palm Paper are (from left) Stephan Gruber, Oliver Kilvin and Mick Beckett. Picture: Ian Burt

At Palm Paper are (from left) Stephan Gruber, Oliver Kilvin and Mick Beckett. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

The King's Lynn-based mill sends its apprentices across the continent to Germany for seven weeks each year to complete specialist qualifications, after finding no suitable training in the UK.

And now the UK's other leading paper mills have joined Palm's pioneering programme, shipping their paper technology apprentices off to the Gernsbach School with their Norfolk counterparts.

'The industry has seen what has been done and now there is a lot more interest in specialist paper training,' said Mick Beckett, human resources director.

'Four other companies have joined our scheme. We are a big name within the paper industry. We have a duty to support the training.'

Palm Paper apprentice Mareks Cooper. Picture: Ian Burt

Palm Paper apprentice Mareks Cooper. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt


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Stephan Gruber, managing director of production, said when the mill opened seven years ago there was limited training in the UK.

'A lot was learned through experience,' he said. 'That is great if you have an experienced workforce, where people can trickle through, but we started with a new workforce and the depth of knowledge just wasn't there.'

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Apprentices spend a portion of their training in Germany, in addition to working at the Norfolk factory and taking classes in engineering at the College of West Anglia.

They are mostly drawn from the nearby area, which Mr Beckett said was part the company's original aims, and each costs almost £100,000 to train.

Palm also pays CWA and the German college for the tuition and the apprentices receive a salary.

'Dr Wolfgang Palm committed from day one to supporting the local community when we could,' said Mr Beckett.

'We wanted to have our apprentices valued and a valuable part of the setup. As a result, we set very attractive terms and conditions for them, above the national minimum.'

If apprentices pass the scheme, they will also be offered positions in the company as junior engineers, and undertake further training.

The mill produces paper for many of the UK's newspapers, including the Telegraph, the Daily Mail and the Eastern Daily Press.

Has your company launched a new apprenticeship scheme? Call business writer Sabah Meddings on 01603 772879 or email sabah.meddings@archant.co.uk

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