Ruth Mitchell

Liebherr launch groundbreaking apprenticeship scheme

A Sunderland crane firm is set to launch an innovative new apprenticeship scheme to help more talented youngsters into the manufacturing industry.

Lieberr Works Ltd, who produce maritime cranes and cargo handling equipment, is now working with Semta, the sector skills council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies, and the University of Sunderland to develop a new training programme which will provide participants with education up to degree level.

It is hoped that the programme will be in place by September, and will offer the highest qualification level apprenticeship in the UK.

Ralph Sälzer, managing director of Liebherr Sunderland Works, said: “Manufacturing has always faced the challenge of attracting new people who are often led to believe it is an unskilled sector with an autocratic and blue-collar working environment. That really couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Manufacturing can offer a highly challenging, rewarding and exciting career path, and the introduction of a course that educates people to degree standard is a real indicator of the skill level and expertise needed to succeed in the field.”

Semta has worked closely with Liebherr and other manufacturers in the area to create a curriculum which will suit the needs of industry. It is hoped that the innovative scheme will encourage other manufacturers to get involved in offering higher level apprenticeships.

Liebherr has operated in the Wearside area for more than 20 years, and is one of a number of businesses across the UK working with local partners to implement the scheme in their area.

Bill Twigg, development director at Semta, said: “We’ve engaged with businesses right across the UK, and Liebherr and the University of Sunderland have both been important partners in the North area, helping us to develop a framework that we are confident will get this course up and running by September.

“We believe that introducing a course that will train apprentices to this higher level will really help to attract people who perhaps wouldn’t have considered a career in manufacturing, to pursue a role in the field.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity - particularly for young people - to earn while they learn, gaining valuable work experience, a degree standard qualification, and a regular salary at the same time.”

All parties involved in the scheme hope that the new qualifications will make manufacturing more attractive to a new generation of individuals, something which is instrumental to the growth of the sector.

The course will involve on the job training alongside class-based learning at the University of Sunderland.

Professor John MacIntyre, dean of the faculty of Applied Sciences and pro vice chancellor at the University of Sunderland, said: “The university is delighted to be working with both the sector skills council and one of the major employers on this important initiative.

“A highly skilled workforce is essential to the success of the manufacturing industry, and we are working with Semta and Liebherr to map out how apprenticeships can give individuals the opportunity to gain degree level qualifications.”

Rolls-Royce North East Training Centre in Newcastle have already been involved in the scheme, and is expected to play an integral role in assessing and administering the courses.

Anthony Beeton, operations manager at Rolls-Royce’s Scotswood Road centre, said: “This course will take the training of young apprentices to the next level, allowing them to not only learn the basics, but to build upon this, with a course that is geared towards problem solving and people management.

“It represents a really exciting opportunity for young people, and is something we look forward to playing a part in.”

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