L-R: apprentices Liam Rowden and Matthew Reilly, who have both completed the Ford Engineering programme, with Gateshead College tutor Anthony Jeff.
Jane Imrie

North East firms back engineering training academy to plug skills gap

Fifteen local companies have signed up to be part of a North East training programme to address skills shortages in manufacturing and engineering sectors.

Developed with Gateshead College, the Ford Engineering Academy was established in 2017 to provide manufacturing and engineering training.

Chris Ford, managing director of Ford Engineering, explained: “Our Ford Engineering Academy has attracted the interest from some amazing businesses that all realise the really significant input they can have in shaping their future workforce.

“We have had some amazing young people through the academy already who have gone on to secure apprenticeships. Having more businesses offer work placement opportunities is only going to add to the experience for our learners.”

The academy includes one year of study at Gateshead College’s Skills Academy for Automotive and Engineering, with students learning engineering skills such as machine preparation and use, as well as computer aided design (CAD) technology.

In addition to mastering technical competencies to support work placement and apprenticeship progress, students study english, mathematics and workplace health and safety procedures.

Ahead of the September 2019 intake of new students, firms that have pledged support for the academy include Graphic Packaging International, Beamish, Dyer Engineering, Unipres, National Oilwell Varco and Tyneside Safety Glass.

Julie Nicholson, HR manager at Graphic Packaging International, commented: “There are severe skills shortages in the manufacturing and engineering sectors and it’s important for the future of our business that we do something to tackle the problem.

“We’re invested in supporting young people and feel the programme is an ideal way to recruit and bring fresh talent and skills to our team.”

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