Ford Academy
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North East manufacturer opens doors to new engineering academy

A respected business boss has hailed the next step of a new academy for engineers after its first recruits undertook a nuts and bolts tour of facilities.

Geoff Ford MBE gave trainees an in-depth look around high-tech precision components maker Ford Aerospace Limited’s factory at Tyne Dock, South Shields - just weeks before the pioneering scheme starts.

He was joined by Alison Maynard, Director of Curriculum Planning and Learner Engagement at South Tyneside College – a joint partner in the venture – as well as James Leet from Haas Automation and Albert Chater from Cromwell.

Haas Automation, the world’s largest CNC machine tool manufacturer, and Cromwell, a leading provider of cutting tools and industrial supplies, are supporting the Ford Engineering Academy – created in part to address a skills gap within the sector - by providing equipment and other backing.

Mr Ford said: “It was very beneficial to the new trainees to see our operations and to take in the high-tech and very professional environment of which they will be part.

“The academy will provide a great opportunity for them and other young people to learn the basics of a highly-valued industry, one in which they can develop very fulfilling careers.

“I’m delighted with their enthusiasm and I’m looking forward to welcoming them to Ford. It’s a very exciting time for everyone involved.”

The apprentices were shown all areas of the site including the milling, turning, assembly, quality control, administration, despatch, engineering, and learning facilities.

They discovered more about Ford’s national and international operations from four senior managers and how it is geared up for training young people from three current full-time apprentices.

The youngsters will be taught by South Tyneside College lecturers and enjoy a six-week work experience placement with a North East engineering firm.

Mrs Maynard said: “It was great to see the academy’s first recruits on-site being shown the type of operations they will be involved in.

“The development of the academy shows the tremendous determination of all involved to give young people the best possible opportunity to gain skills in a much valued sector of the UK economy.”

Mr Leet and Mr Chater also spoke to them about how industry was trying to inspire people to become engineers and how opportunities were being created.

And Mr Chater also told how innovators and industrialists from the North East had historically proved to be role models.

He said afterwards: “It was very good to talk to these keen and enthusiastic young people and to give them an insight into the rich potential engineering offers.

“I’m sure they will do very well and that the academy will be a huge success.”

Mr Leet added: “The academy is a wonderful initiative and has the potential to benefit engineering region-wide.

“It will also go some way to address the widening skills gap in the industry”

After the six months programme is completed, it is anticipated that trainees will be offered full apprenticeships, be given interviews for any job vacancies, or continue on to a Level 3 college apprenticeship course.

A second cache of trainees are expected to start early next year.

South Tyneside Manufacturing Forum will be holding an event on September 18that One Trinity Green from 12 noon to 2.30pm at which businesses can find out more about the Ford Engineering Academy. Speakers include the four key partners in the Academy; Geoff Ford MBE, Ford Aerospace and Ford Component Manufacturing; Alison Maynard, South Tyneside College; James Leet of Haas Automation and Albert Chater of Cromwell.

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