Launch - In Depth - April 2018


Danny Law joined Garmendale as an apprentice 20 years ago, and today, he leads a team of engineers on projects like "Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride" at Alton Towers. (Credit: Garmendale Engineering LTD.)

Garmendale’s Apprenticeship Program Is Investment in the Future

The 2017 opening of “Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom Ride” at Alton Towers in Staffordshire, England, marked the culmination of nine months’ work at the Garmendale Engineering Ltd. factory in Derbyshire, England, by the firm’s design and build team.

The lead role was that of Danny Law, the workshop manager who joined Garmendale 20 years earlier as a company apprentice.

Garmendale first started its apprenticeship program in 1997, and Law was just a 17-year-old aspiring engineer who came on board after learning of the opportunity through one of his mother’s hairdressing clients. Today, he leads an expanding team of engineers who create and maintain rides for many of the world’s biggest attractions and is an inspiring example of the value of apprentice programs for both young talent and offering companies. 

Formal apprenticeships are different from internships in that the former are paid positions, require much greater time commitments, involve rather extensive responsibilities, and more often lead to a job with the offering company. Law suggests why the attractions industry may now be seeing more apprenticeships than before: “I think this industry wasn’t seen as an occupational career. As the attractions and leisure industries have grown over the years, this may be the reason for more apprenticeships being made available within the industry.”

He says one significant change in engineering apprenticeships was the amount of work required 20 years ago, hand-cutting, drilling, and finishing every component, often involving weeks of work before fabrication. Today, computer-aided design (CAD) systems for drawing and laser-cutting technology mean components are cut to size much faster, but “there was definitely value to learning via the grunt work,” Law says. “The apprentice learned skills for his or her lifetime and was taught a positive way to work. If modern apprentices only learn the jigsaw method, putting together pre-cut components, they don’t have the fully rounded experience my apprenticeship gave me.”

Law also credits his apprenticeship for problem-solving skills and the ability to assist design engineers in decision-making due to his strong knowledge of what is and isn’t achievable. “I also believe the way I was taught throughout my apprenticeship has enabled me to progress and achieve the leadership qualities I now use on a daily basis as a manager at Garmendale,” he notes. 

As for the value to companies in offering this type of program, Law says, “The apprenticeship route is key to the future of the industry and is invaluable to the future of the businesses employing the apprentices, as well.”


IAAPA Foundation

The IAAPA Foundation seeks to inspire life-changing careers in the global attractions industry by cultivating tomorrow’s leaders. In addition to partnerships with colleges, universities, and JA Worldwide, the foundation hosts job-shadowing programs at IAAPA Expos and awards scholarships to students pursuing a career in the industry. For more information, visit the IAAPA Foundation page.