In the summer of 1998, Torr Scientific Limited was born in a garage in Bexhill-on-Sea on the south coast of England. Quickly realising its growth potential, founders Dave and Heather Bates expanded the company into a small unit along the coast at Brighton, but in 2009 TSL returned to Bexhill with the support of Relocate South East and has not looked back since, with the handful of employees who made the move growing to a current roll count of 40 – and they are on the lookout for another four new recruits!
Now in their 25th year of manufacturing UHV, optical and X-ray components on the south coast of England, TSL’s contribution to employment and training in East Sussex is considerable. As sales have grown, all profits have been reinvested, with staff development a key beneficiary. In addition, the apprenticeship scheme has allowed TSL to grow faster, taking on young people with limited experience who can develop and grow with the company; the ability to take on apprentices at a lower cost than a full-time employee has been vital, allowing TSL to develop the skill-sets of young people to the benefit of both themselves and the company – it truly is a symbiotic win-win!
Stephen King, Business Engagement Lead at the Sussex Council of Training Providers, is a keen advocate of apprenticeships:
“I’ve worked with TSL for over a decade in a training capacity and during that time have seen many young people evolve from inexperienced school-leavers to valued employees at the company, gaining confidence, skills and knowledge along the way. The management at TSL like to give apprentices the opportunity to experience as many areas of the business as possible, so that they can find out what they most enjoy doing. It is testament to the supportive environment at TSL that so many apprentices want to remain at the company having completed their courses.”
In recent years, TSL has supported 13 young people through their apprenticeships in subjects relevant to all areas of the business, including AAT Accounts, Customer Service, Engineering, and Business Administration, with every one of them earning a full-time role at the company upon the completion of their course – over half of them are still at the company today!
In addition, five permanent employees have taken the opportunity to study higher-level apprenticeship courses in AAT Accounts, Management & Leadership, and Digital Marketing, whilst the Company Scientist has achieved his long-term goal of earning his engineering doctorate from the University of Surrey with the sponsorship of TSL.
Where suitable external training courses have not been available locally, training has been provided internally. TSL’s glass shop has so far employed four trainee glassblowers under the tutelage of its highly experienced supervisor, who continues to help them develop the knowledge and techniques of this extremely skilled, but increasingly rare trade.
Finally, the company has worked with Year in Industry to give four physics undergraduates the opportunity to spend their internships adding industry experience to their own scientific knowledge, thereby launching the innovators of the future. Jo Melton was an MSci Physics undergraduate at the University of Nottingham when she spent her summer at TSL:
“Working in industry is a whole world away from education, and a scary jump to make on your own. Torr Scientific gave me an invaluable insight into working in science, taught me skills I still use today and gave me the leg-up I needed to kickstart my career. Any nerves I had about transitioning into work were immediately soothed by the friendly, supportive, family atmosphere. After working there, I knew without a shred of doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a scientist and make a meaningful contribution to the industry. I now work with vacuum technology daily as a physicist at Diamond Light Source. I’m very proud of my roots and I where I started. I wouldn’t be who I am today without Torr Scientific.”
Several current TSL staff who have benefitted from the company’s training opportunities added their thoughts:
“I joined Torr Scientific Ltd 7 years ago as a Business Administration Apprentice working in the Customer Service/Sales department and can say I have learnt so much across the years. After my apprenticeship, I was offered a full-time role at Torr Scientific Ltd. In January 2022, I was promoted to Customer Service Supervisor. My role entails a wide range of customer service, business administration and sales functions. Part of my role involves handling complex and highly technical customer requests. My training at Torr has also taught me effective work communication skills and can now confidently express particularly difficult principles and manufacturing techniques to my colleagues, clients and partners based in UK and overseas. The 7 years I have been at Torr Scientific Ltd have been a joy and I look forward to seeing the company grow further.”
“My Engineering Apprenticeship at Torr Scientific allowed me to experience many manufacturing practices and build a good understanding of the vacuum industry. This has helped me move into a technical role that continues to test and improve my engineering and manufacturing skill set.”
“My studies covered IT, photography, video making and editing, coding, software development etc. When the opportunity came up to be a Digital Marketer apprentice via Torr, I was very happy to take it, as it nicely complements my previous studies. Also, it was a great chance to take on more roles in the marketing department.”
“At the age of 33, I graduated with a First Class BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science but found myself in a poorly paid job in a local company with little prospect for advancement. Ten years after graduating, TSL and University of Surrey offered me an opportunity to join a KTP (Knowledge Transfer Partnership), a scheme that develops an individual professionally while working on a project utilizing both industrial and academic expertise. With the help of TSL and Surrey, along with a very knowledgeable and patient mentor provided by TSL, I was very soon getting up to speed in analysis techniques such as SEM (scanning electron microscopy), XPS (X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy) and FEA (finite element analysis). When the KTP successfully concluded, the partnership was extended with my enrolment on an EngD (Engineering Doctorate) in Materials Science and Nanotechnology. I was based at TSL but with some taught content at Surrey plus access to the academics and instrumentation. I am now a Doctor of Engineering and work full-time for TSL as Company Scientist, a position in which I retain good professional and personal friendships at the university.”
“My apprenticeship at Torr scientific has helped me learn many new skills for my personal development, things such as learning how to communicate more confidently and formally, it has also help me gain experience and knowledge into a business and how it operates which helps me go forward, in the right direction on my career path. It has positively impacted my learning and attitude towards working and my studies as well.”
If you’d like to know more about a career at Torr Scientific, please contact us here at email@example.com