County Durham training firm launches rail apprentices division

The County Durham initiative hopes to benefit from billions promised to improve rail infrastructure in the coming years

Tony Hobbs, founder of Baltic Training Services
Tony Hobbs, founder of Baltic Training Services

A County Durham training company has launched a rail apprentices division to keep it on track to achieve double digit turnover, having grown sales to £8m since it started trading.

Tony Hobbs co-founded Baltic Training Services Limited in 2006 with the backing of Freddie and Roger Peart, the Hartlepool businessmen at the helm of the £100m distribution and manufacturing Peart Group.

Turnover has grown by £3m in the last three years, putting it well on target to break through an £8m turnover target by the end of the year – an increase of £3m in three years.

The firm, which has grown its workforce from 80 to 110 since 2012, set out plans to hit £10m turnover within 10 years of starting up.

Mr Hobbs said the firm is on target to reach that goal, having grown by £3m in the last three years and successfully delivering Skills Funding Agency backed programmes in the North East and throughout the UK.

Now it hopes its new rail apprentices division will fuel further growth, as well as create huge numbers of job opportunities.

The company delivers the Work Programme, which is aimed at getting the long-term unemployed back to work in major parts of the UK like Nottingham and Birmingham, delivering industrial apprenticeships focused on manufacturing and much more recently the rail sector.

Mr Hobbs is now launching two key developments to fuel continued healthy growth.

He has bought the North East franchise for New Horizons, the world’s biggest online IT training brand which delivers 40% of all Microsoft training from 330 centres globally, meaning users can access mentored learning online when they choose to take the lessons.

Its new rail apprentices division has also created 200 apprentices since the start of the year.

Mr Hobbs added: “Rail is a really good fit with our existing manufacturing and industrial training programmes which all need to be heavily accredited in order for the apprentices to be allowed to work in heavily regulated environments.

“There is £9bn promised to improve rail infrastructure and 32,000 apprentices required in rail to implement this investment in the network. It’s a very exciting time, in business you must act on an opportunity.”

The firm is now based in Newton Aycliffe but in the early days the firm was based out of the Peart’s industrial fuel yard in a portable building.

“The Pearts’ interests were in fuel and oil distribution, manufacturing and recruitment so there was already significant cross over with the manufacturing training programmes I’d been involved in and I’ve never been afraid to get my hands dirty.

“By June 2008 we had fuel distribution customers in the transport sector focused on training drivers of heavy goods vehicles but it had always been in our plan to target more niche high value markets like Information Technology.

“We said at the beginning that training must have an economic output, training for training’s sake doesn’t solve anyone’s problems – it must lead to a paid job, a pay rise or a promotion, otherwise what is the point?”

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