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Media

The National Training Awards Press Office will send out press releases following the announcement of the regional finalists, regional ceremonies and the Gala.

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Training apprentices helps company compete at higher level

Fabrication machining company TIS Cumbria has trained up its own apprentices in order to make sure it would have enough staff to meet its future skills needs. As a result, it says it has won contracts from multinationals that it may not otherwise have secured.

The company, which makes products from high integrity pipe spools to stainless steel and carbon steel fabrications for the nuclear sector, realised in 2007 that there was a forthcoming skills shortage in the sector. It had tried to outsource work and also to take on foreign workers in the previous months and years, but found this approach unreliable. The company decided therefore to train up its own apprentices, recruiting direct from school to bring apprentices up to a high skill level in a short time.

In preparation, it moved one of its employees into a full-time practical training role, and built its own training facility. Specific training bays were created for welding, a particular area of shortage. A local training provider was also taken on. In-house radiographers and technicians would measure skills according to nuclear criteria, while the whole training programme, developed at managing director level, would also meet nuclear standards. Delivery is by the company’s experienced workforce, with theory training by approved providers.

Apprentices were chosen on their academic success, social activities and evidence of community spirit. Final interviews were carried out with one or both parents present. Both male and female apprentices have been recruited. In 2007 one trainee was taken on, followed by six in 2008 and 2009. A further six starters are confirmed for September 2010.

Current apprentices are on track to achieve NVQs at levels two and three. All already have welding qualifications that are recognised nationally and internationally, and most are already working in nuclear manufacturing to some degree. The work they do is inspected and passed by nuclear customers, along with that of the rest of the workforce. Apprentices therefore feel part of a team and contribute to their own training costs, giving them a sense of ownership and pride in their work.

The cost of training to the company comes to £13,450 per apprentice, with funding support of £2,666 per apprentice from the Nuclear Skills Academy. Initially it was thought that the cost would be recouped within two years, but in fact it has been closer to just seven months.

As a result of the training, the company says it no longer needs to look for experienced workers and does not envisage recruiting from other areas for the foreseeable future.

Tony O’Pray, managing director, says: “Our expectations have been met and in fact surpassed to the extent that our customers are asking for advice on how we have achieved such remarkable results. Ongoing training will be developed in different areas and we expect that the company will now grow to accept that the apprentices we train will be of a multiskilled nature.”

The privately-owned company, whose specialist capabilities include ultrasonic testing and 3D CAD design, says it is now in the top 10% of the Nuclear Skills Academy apprentices in the UK. It also has the largest ratio of apprentices to employees in Cumbria, and says it has won orders from large multinational companies that may not have been possible if it were not for the apprentice training scheme.

John Bragg, joint managing director, says: “Without this training it is unlikely that any of our apprentices would have secured employment locally. The present climate in an area declining in engineering would not have allowed growth and employment.

“The commitment to the training of apprentices has enabled the company to compete against much larger companies and succeed.”

TIS Cumbria started life as a one-man operation working from home, in 1995. Today it employs 44 people and has made the Skills Pledge.

ENDS
633 words

Entry name: TIS Cumbria Limited; To generate high integrity training, required for future new build plant and equipment.
Location: Unit 5A, Derwent Drive, Workington, Cumbria, CA14 3YW.
Entry no: 101182
Region: NW
For further information contact:
Tom York – Senior PR Executive 020 7429 2828 or tom.york@ukskills.org.uk

Antonia Lee – Marketing Manager 020 7429 2825 or antonia.lee@ukskills.org.uk

 

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