Advanced training centre part of £4.5m investment in skills


A training business which has been supporting engineering employers on Humberside for more than 50 years is working with more than 300 employers to help tackle the skills shortage in the area.

Humberside Engineering Training Association (HETA) relocated its entire Hull operation into the city’s Advanced Engineering Training Centre as part of a £4.5m investment programme.

The organisation’s chief executive Iain Elliot says taking a partnership approach is vital to ensure the technical training it delivers is relevant to the needs of businesses.

He said: “More and more companies are coming to us and saying ‘this is what we need, can you deliver it?’”

Elliot added the apprenticeship levy got off “to a rocky start”. He said: “It was an okay policy conceived and launched in haste and I don’t think the government took into account how long it would take for people to fully understand it.

“We’re in a much better place now, a lot more companies do understand what the levy is about .The government is tweaking it and making changes.”

He adds: “The criticism coming back from some employers is about what they can actually use the levy for.”

Elliot added there will always be businesses that don’t want to engage with apprenticeships. For some smaller employers it is the belief that they can’t afford to take on an apprentice and pay the wages for someone who will spend a lot of time out of the business.

He said: “There is a need to break down what is a significant barrier. There is the need for some kind of incentive.

“There is a feeling in some quarters that this is a system is okay for the big boys such as Rolls Royce and Jaguar Land Rover.”

Elliot believes the introduction of a bursary system, giving employers of a certain size help to meet the wage bill of an apprentice, could be a big help in changing attitudes.

Apprentices at a leading engineering training centre were challenged to make the most of their “top-class facilities” when the president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers called in for a fact-finding visit to HETA.

Tony Roche, who revealed it is now 60 years since his own days as an apprentice, told the young learners that the changing world is bringing more opportunities than ever, but he urged them to embrace the concept of lifelong learning.

He told the apprentices: “You have got a lifetime in front of you of learning, learning, learning because technology is changing so rapidly now. You might have five, 10 even 15 jobs during your career.”

John Kerr, operations director of Develop Training Limited (DTL), a provider to the utilities and construction sector with an operation in York, says apprenticeships can also generate social mobility.

He added: “Instead of racking up student debt, apprentices earn while they learn, and apprenticeships provide other ways of learning for those who aren’t suited to academia.

“Yes, there is an element of classroom learning but for most of our apprenticeships, the focus is on learning through well-supervised, genuine on-the-job experience.”