In-Comm Training has joined forces with one of Wolverhampton’s largest employers, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to help unemployed people into advanced manufacturing jobs.
The independent training provider, which operates two technical academies in Aldridge and Telford, has created a fast-track course that will aim to create up to 65 new machinists and electro-mechanical fitters for RTX’s Collins Aerospace factory in Wolverhampton.
A pilot scheme for the first cohort of 10 people started in January, with each participant receiving a mix of theoretical and practical technical training that will see them learn turning, milling, hand fitting, CAD CAM and 3 and 5-axis machining, as well as understanding technical drawings.
Backed by over £200,000 of Higher Level Skills funding by the WMCA, the course will take just six months to complete.
At the end of it, each learner will receive a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering and Technologies, additional on-the-job competences, and an interview/opportunity to gain full-time employment at Collins Aerospace’s Wolverhampton facility.
DWP, which plays a key role in the initial recruitment phase, has also agreed to continue to pay each individual’s benefits for the duration of the course.
“We are continually working with employers to overcome barriers to sustainability and growth through the right talent attraction and development, taking that valuable insight and creating training programmes that deliver future workers, vital competences and skilled engineers,” explained Gareth Jones, managing director of In-Comm Training. “The aerospace industry has seen first-hand the impact of the current skills shortage, a skills shortage that has been exacerbated by COVID-19.
“With the niche skills required to be a CNC machinist and electro-mechanical fitter, the talent isn’t readily available and, the only way to overcome this, is to create the next generation of engineers.”
He continued: “This is why we’ve developed a fast-track option to initially equip 10 individuals with the skills and Level 3 qualification required to work on the manufacturing shopfloor at Collins Aerospace in Wolverhampton.
“We have worked really closely to develop the content of the course and were able to introduce an innovative partnership with DWP, whilst accessing funding from WMCA to bring the programme to reality.”
Wolverhampton-based Collins Aerospace has used In-Comm Training for its apprenticeship scheme since 2018, with the latest training being delivered predominantly at the provider’s Technical Academy in Telford.
Learners have been inducted and completed environmental, health and safety training and have now moved onto engineering theory and honing practical skills.
To enhance engagement even further, participants will also be partly trained on the Collins Aerospace site in Wolverhampton, giving them full exposure to the aerospace world and culture.
Cathy Taylor, business development manager with the Black Country Jobcentres, added: “Jobcentres across the Black Country have been promoting the bespoke training programme, which delivers an intensive 6 months of learning, leading to a full-time job opportunity and well-paid career with the global aerospace supplier.
“This is a unique opportunity for motivated jobseekers, who already hold a level 2 in maths and aspire to obtain a Level 3 qualification in Engineering and Technologies and gain employment in the manufacturing sector.”
The pilot course is part of a £429,000 ‘Higher Level Skills’ funding package In-Comm Training secured from the WMCA to help the region bridge the skills gap facing manufacturing.
There are plans in place to recruit for a second cohort in June, with the overall aim of developing up to 65 engineers by the end of 2025.
Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA chair, concluded: “We’ve identified Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering as one of our priority sectors in our region’s Plan for Growth.
“This partnership between DWP, Collins Aerospace and In-Comm Training shows how WMCA skills funding can align with a high-growth sector, enabling local people to upskill in this field and boosting their employment prospects at the same time. It will also provide the sector with the workforce talent required to increase productivity and fuel growth.
“In-Comm has developed a flexible skills offer to help local residents access training - supporting their future career prospects, as well as their wider health and wellbeing in the months and years ahead.”
Anyone who is unemployed and interested in this programme should email email@example.com for more information about the next cohort.”