Generation NE, a youth employment programme spearheaded by five local authorities (including Durham County Council) is working with local businesses to support young people into sustainable employment. Focusing on an age group of 17 to 24, the initiative will aim to assist up to 2,000 people over the next three years.
Within this programme, trainee welders (aged between 18 and 22) will spend their first months at The Welding Academy, undertaking practical training and a VRQ qualification, progressing to the shop floor, completing the NVQ aspects of their City & Guilds Engineering Level 2.
Caterpillar is one of the businesses working with the authorities. Helen Hooper, employee services manager, indentified a shortage in the North East market for experienced welders when recruiting for Caterpillar. Since developing the new apprenticeship programme, Hooper has seen the retention rate for welding staff stabilist with almost 90% of these ‘junior welders’ retained on completion of the programme. The majority of these students progress to Level 3 of their qualification.
What a great example of combining education with the welding trade to form a bespoke qualification!