MP Nigel Mills officially opens Qualitrain Engineering Academy

3 min read
Mar 29, 2022 6:40:00 PM

Qualitrain Engineering Academy has officially been opened by Amber Valley MP, Nigel Mills.

At the Open Day on Friday 25th March, a ‘cutting the ribbon’ celebration was held to officially open the Academy in front of key members of the local community and local organisations.

Amber Valley MP, Nigel Mills, officially opens Qualitrain Engineering Academy

Richard Bates, Qualitrain Group CEO, said:

“An Engineering Academy has been our ambition for many years. Last September, the opportunity arose for us to meet that ambition when we bought CEATA academy from Canal Engineering based in Nottingham. We have been working hard since then to create the facilities at Alfreton and maintain the learning of existing apprentices.

Why did we take the decision to invest in the Engineering Academy during such volatile times? Afterall, we are only just coming out of the Covid19 pandemic and much of education had gone online to meet the needs of the necessity to work at home. This didn’t meet the needs of all our customers. Our main customer base has traditionally been centered on trains, planes and automobiles; our tier 1 manufacturing industries. These industries had to continue operating and as such, we needed to adapt to their requirements. We know that there are 71% of Engineering companies experiencing skills gaps. There are nearly 20% of Engineers working in the UK due to retire by 2026. The major short falls are within fabrication, welding, machining, rail engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering.

Our modern industries have a diverse range of training requirements. We have some very specialist training requirements including welding thin gauge titanium tubing to building wiring looms and core competencies for trains. We want to be able to meet those specialities and offer training solutions that strengthen and safeguard our manufacturing industries –this is in fact our mission statement.”

“What are we going to do differently?

There are two key things here, craft skills and diversity of engineering skills that can be taught.

For the new engineering standards, especially those that don’t have attached qualifications, we want to dedicate one year to engineering craft studies across all engineering activities including Fabrication and Welding, machining, basic maintenance, basic electrics, lean and 5S. We want them to experience how to use hand tools on a range of materials. We want to recapture the old Engineering Industrial Training Board method of first year apprenticeships. From our own experiences we see that these skills are missing in industry.

Over the last few month’s I have been working on creating a consortium of likeminded providers and academies who can provide specialist skills that are necessary but in short supply in order to create a range of diversity that can’t be matched by any college. Our centre will form the hub of this consortium providing the training location for Fabrication and Welding, Electrical Engineering, Technical Training, CAD and IT.

Our IT partners, Arcsus, will provide specialist IT support. They are also working in partnership with us to deliver the new level 3 IT apprenticeship from the academy. 

For our apprentices within the Rail Engineering industry, we have agreed a partnership with Barrow Hill Roundhouse at Chesterfield, a Heritage Rail facility that have agreed to rent us one of their workshops in order for us to deliver specialised engineering training from that location. This will include the Rail Operating Technician level 3 as well as Maintenance Engineering Technician qualifications where we can utilise the fabulous resources available including fluid power, heavy engineering, diesel and electric motors as well as specialised Rail Industry requirements such as bogies and traction units, braking systems, door operating systems to name but a few. Our goal is to establish a separate Rail Academy at this site.

We are currently developing relationships with Nasmyth Machining Academy. Nasmyth are one of the countries most advanced aerospace engineering manufacturers. Our aims are to provide our apprentices with the opportunity to learn machining skills with this specialist provider. We in turn, will work with Nasmyth to provide them training for their apprentices with the delivery of technical certificates.

There are a few other companies that we are chatting with at the moment in order to grow this consortium.

This we believe, will provide us with the edge industry needs for meeting their skills gaps as continuing to successfully grow our own business, creating jobs and opportunities for many more people.” 

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