Good news from Hartwell Manufacturing in West Yorkshire.

Concerned by the shortage of new welding talent, the company set up its own training centre at their Wakefield factory last year. Now, six months later, 10 of the students have been offered apprenticeships by Hartwell and other local steel manufacturers, providing a skills boost to the whole sector. As a result, Hartwell has taken on another 10 trainees to learn skills direct from their highly experienced team of welders.

Providing skills for the whole welding sector

Training young welders to be apprentices elsewhere was all part of the Hartwell plan when they envisaged the centre. From the get-go they invited other manufacturing companies to visit the trainees and aimed for two intakes a year, producing many more apprentices than they alone would require.

It’s all part of the company’s commitment to reviving the skills base of the sector even though, as a private trainer, they’ve received no public funding for the £100,000 development.

Hartwell Manufacturing first felt compelled to act when, three years ago, the management team realised 75% of their skilled workers were over the age of 55.

Like many other companies in their sector, they were being badly squeezed by the chronic skills gap. Of that top age group, all had been trained at Hartwell, but that was 40 years ago.

Apprenticeships build staff loyalty

Now the company will have a steady stream of well-trained and motivated young workers finishing their training and ready to start as apprentices. They believe that training your own staff increases staff loyalty. It also means that an apprentice will be trained in the host company’s own particular methods, procedures and specialisms, a great advantage for the future. And the demand is there from young people. When Hartwell launched their scheme, they received almost 400 applications for just 14 places on the five-month intensive course.

City and Guilds’ recognition

Hartwell Manufacturing conducted a review of its training unit after the first six months and was delighted with the progress of both the students and the centre, which continues to go from strength to strength. It has now been formally approved as a City and Guilds official training centre, offering both NVQ and Diploma level 3 qualifications.

In addition two additional members of staff have been recruited, one who has worked at the Wakefield works since he was 16 and a second who has come out of retirement to pass on his skills to the students. This transfer of knowledge is also beneficial to the trainer. As Hartwell has noticed, their experienced welders gain great satisfaction from passing on their expertise and are respected by the trainees – a big success all round.

Are you looking to develop the skills your business needs to remain competitive? News of the Hartwell initiative can be found in The Welders’ Toolkit from BOC which provides a wide range of practical advice and guidance on skills, process efficiencies and technologies, to make your welding business more profitable. Download it here.