A COLLEGE has helped 50 apprentices from an engineering firm to achieve honours.
The learners, all of whom are studying for advanced welding and fabricating qualifications at Hartlepool College of Further Education, were recognised at engineering specialist Darchem’s plant near Stockton.
The event marked the first graduation of students since Hartlepool College became the sole provider of Darchem’s higher education and commercial training requirements.
Darchem managing director Billy Meijer was at the celebration to present awards and said: “There is a substantial skills shortage in the specialist engineering/manufacturing industry and so it is our duty to develop the workforce and train them up to a very high standard.”
Darchem specialises in insulation systems and structural components for industries including the nuclear, marine, oil, gas and Formula 1 sectors.
Mr Meijer added: “The business has grown strongly over the last five years to reach £83m turnover. We continue to train because without core skills and flexibility the company cannot move forward, and so apprenticeships are a key part of our growth strategy. We have over 900 employees at Darchem of which seven per cent (and climbing) are currently going through our apprentice training programme.
“Partnering with Hartlepool College has been a key to meeting our strategic objective. They listened to what we required from a training provider and tailored the apprentice courses to ensure we got what we needed to meet the demands of the specialist industry sectors that we serve
“The quality of the apprentices being recognised today is testament to the quality of training and support they have received over the last four years from the college.”
College principal Darren Hankey said: “Darchem Engineering is an excellent example of a company which is looking to the future and preparing for a major skills shortage. Their continued support and investment in our students will ensure they will have educated and skilled labour for years to come.”
Apprentice of the Year for the first year intake was named at Jack Ryder, while Mark Harsley was awarded for Best Effort.
Amongst the second years, David Garside was named Apprentice of the Year while Jamie Read was awarded for Best Effort.
In Year Three, Jamie Irvine took the Apprentice of the Year award with Adam Childs commended for Best Effort and fourth year Apprentice of the Year was Thomas Murdoch with Sam Buller winning the Best Effort Award.