Innovative partnership aims to plug the engineering skills gap in Mid Wales
A partnership has been formed in Mid Wales to produce the next generation of engineers for manufacturing and engineering companies who have been frustrated that a skills shortage is holding them back.
Eleven apprentices and six employers have been signed up to launch a foundation apprenticeship in engineering programme, which is being funded by the Welsh Government with support from the European Social Fund.
The foundation apprenticeship is the result of a partnership between Mid Wales Manufacturing Group (MWMG), NPTC Group of Colleges and Myrick Training Services, Montgomery, a member of the Coleg Cambria Partnership. They have pledged to provide a pathway for young people to follow towards a rewarding career in engineering and manufacturing.
During a survey of its members, MWMG discovered that a shortage of trained engineers in Mid Wales is impacting on business performance and restricting expansion and development.
In the past two years, MWMG has generated interest in manufacturing by involving young people in company visits and engineering challenges with the backing of SEMTA. But training and employment opportunities for young people were limited.
Now, thanks to the work of the three partners, six companies – Contact Attachments, Makefast, Polyco and Quality Pipe Supports all based in Newtown, Dawson Shanahan, Welshpool and Rheidol Valley Railway, Aberystwyth – have committed to employing 11 foundation apprentices.
The foundation apprentices will attend a Level 2 course at the NPTC Group of Colleges’ Newtown Campus for three days a week and spend two days in the workplace.
“These six employers have committed to taking a proactive role in meeting their basic engineering training requirements,” said Brian Dunlop, of Myrick Training Services. “As well as being trained in college, the foundation apprentices will also experience working in a manufacturing environment.
“It commits the young people who are being paid and sponsored by the companies during their training because they know that they will continue to a Level 3 apprenticeship. The engineering apprenticeship route can provide a progression to higher education as an alternative to going to university.”
Nicola Thornton-Scott, NPTC Group of Colleges’ Assistant Principal for Skills explained:
“Apprenticeships are an excellent way of building the winning team employers need. They can support a business to create a more capable, motivated and responsive workforce with the practical skills that the business requires.
But the benefits don’t end there. Productivity will be improved as people get better at doing their jobs, morale will be boosted and staff turnover reduced by offering effective training and genuine career progression. It’s good for business too – customer confidence will be increased when they see staff attaining recognised qualifications and standards.
This is a unique partnership that brings together the strengths of the three organisations and employers to enhance training and employment opportunities for young engineers in Mid Wales.
If the programme’s success can be demonstrated this year, we are expecting to see more engineering and manufacturing companies coming forward to take part next year. As a result we will be looking for more young people to take up this fantastic opportunity.”