A global petrochemical manufacturing company has announced it is providing a fast-track training programme to help the North East bridge its engineering skills gap.
National Oilwell Varco (NOV), based in Team Valley, has worked with Sunderland Engineering Training Association (SETA) to train more than 50 of its employees in advanced apprenticeships in manufacturing. SETA and NOV have dramatically changed the training programme for the qualification, known as a Technical Certificate, by delivering it in just nine months, instead of the standard day release programme, which could take up to two years.
The course now focuses on hands-on training, allowing the trainees to develop practical skills quickly and to gain confidence as they start in the work environment.
Martin Cram, process integration manager at NOV, said the intensity of the course and practical application was addressing its engineering skills gap.
He said: “Vocationally-related qualifications deliver more hands-on training so that apprentices can gain the technical skills they need sooner. This not only makes a huge difference to their competency but to their motivation too.
“When our apprentices have finished their workshop and technical training at SETA, they are much more work-ready and this has a big impact on what they are able to deliver throughout the rest of their time with us. They emerge from this part of the course with a deeper knowledge and understanding as well as vastly enhanced skills which they are able to put to use immediately.
“Having worked with SETA over many years, we had the confidence in them to adapt their approach to accommodate what we needed from an apprenticeship programme. They delivered a training programme which would help our business address its own skills shortage and I agree with SETA that if more fast-track programmes were available, the region’s skills gap could be addressed more effectively.”
David Hickman, business development manager at the Washington-based SETA, added: “There is a very obvious engineering skills gap in our region and more needs to be done to try and bridge this gap. The only way this can be achieved is to help apprentices become technically competent quicker and to equip them with essential skills and practical, hands-on experience.”