The Engineering Trust

Q&A with Beverly O’Farrell at FMB Oxford

This week we spoke with Beverly O’Farrell at FMB Oxford to find out a little more about them and their apprenticeship scheme. FMB Oxford has been bringing in new talent through a very successful apprenticeship programme, in partnership with Engineering Trust Training (ETT) for more than 10 years.

Hi Beverly, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions!

Can you give me the brief history of FMB and what you do? 
FMB Oxford is a recognised leader in the supply of high value instrumentation to the scientific community, with more than 25 years’ experience in the global synchrotron and FEL industry. Starting life in the early 1990s as part of Oxford Instruments, the company was sold to Danfysik in 2001 and later, in 2007, became FMB Oxford under the ownership of its current Berlin based parent company. 
FMB Oxford specialise in the design, manufacture, test and installation of instruments for fundamental scientific research and continues to develop its offerings to provide new solutions capable of supporting the increasing demands of science.

How do apprentices fit into your business? 
The apprentice program was originally started to try and bring in new talent to compliment a somewhat ageing workforce. It has been a huge success and, since implementing the program more than 10 years ago, we have only had one of our apprentices move on from the business (following 10 years of employment!). Apprentices join the business and learn every aspect of the job working alongside highly experienced technicians. We recruit those who we feel have the drive to progress within the company and the training gives them the skills to do that when the opportunities arise. Many of our apprentices have developed into other roles, including Production Cell Leader, Project Engineer and Quality Controller.

Can you summarise the benefits of having apprentices on-board?
Generally, the apprentices arrive with little or no industry experience, which gives us the benefit of coaching them in the way that we work. During their apprenticeship they will spend time in all departments, making them transferable in busy periods when different aspects of the business require additional resource. We are also able to recognise potential early on and develop accordingly. In fact, our latest apprentice Sam has just started with us and he already seems to be a great choice and addition to the team here!

What is the recruitment process like with ETT?
The recruitment process is very straight-forward and ETT are a pleasure to work with. Candidates are submitted electronically and, once reviewed, we request interviews with those we chose to move forward in the process. All correspondence goes via ETT. Each year we receive a good number of quality candidates who have been interviewed and assessed prior to submission, so we have a good understanding of their background and capability even before we meet them.

What are you looking for in an Apprentice?
We look for motivated individuals with an abundance of drive and enthusiasm. Dynamic individuals find few barriers to personal and professional development at FMB.

Any final words of advice for businesses who are thinking of taking on an apprentice? 
The Apprenticeship route has produced many highly skilled technicians, some of whom have featured in our succession planning and developed organically through the business. Having learnt the business in its entirety during their apprenticeship, they are well equipped to turn their hands to other areas of the business. It’s a great feeling to be able to support the start of a long-term career.

Our business strap line is ‘Engineering Science for A Brighter Tomorrow’ and our apprentices are a big part of achieving that.


Thanks again Beverly, that’s a brilliant insight into your business and your apprenticeship scheme. 

Written by Yvette, ETT Marketing and Recruitment