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Sparks fly at new Northumberland Welding and Fabrication training centre

Sparks are flying at Northumberland’s first specialist welding and fabrication training centre as it launches a recruitment drive to train the next generation of engineers.

Applications are now open for courses starting in September 2023 at the Northumberland Skills Welding and Fabrication Technical Training Centre.

Northumberland Skills learner, Jess, at new Welding and Fabrication training centre
Northumberland Skills learner, Jess, at new Welding and Fabrication training centre

Based in the heart of the Port of Blyth, the centre, which opens later this month, will equip students leaving school with the skills they need to kickstart their career in advanced manufacturing, engineering, construction, marine and clean energy sectors.

Welding short courses for adults will also be available along with bespoke packages for employers looking to upskill their workforce and a variety of apprenticeship training programmes.

The centre, which stands alongside the flagship Energy Central Learning Hub due to open in 2024 and a host of global companies, is funded by a £1.38m investment from Northumberland County Council and the courses delivered by experienced lecturers from Northumberland Skills, the council’s post-16 education provider.

With 20 welding bays, a dedicated fabrication training area and state-of-the-art equipment including CNC and robotic technology, the centre is primed to boost local skills and the economy.

Councillor Guy Renner-Thompson, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Inspiring Young People, said: “We invested in this site so that our residents can make the most of the opportunities offered by the exciting developments taking place in Blyth and the green energy sector.

“Employers have told us that there is a high demand for people with specialist welding and fabrication skills and this new training centre will plug that gap and equip students of all ages with the skills they need to advance their careers.

“We will continue to work closely with our partners in the port, and beyond, so we can support them by investing in the workforce of the future and together we can bring more skilled jobs and rewarding careers to Northumberland.” Martin Lawlor, Chief Executive at Port of Blyth, said: “The introduction of the new Fabrication and Welding Training facility is fantastic news and a welcome addition to the growing education campus here at the Port of Blyth. “This facility, in conjunction with the Energy Central Learning Hub which is due for completion in 2024, will undoubtedly provide many more pathways into industry, ensuring the local community have access to the wealth of opportunities around the Blyth Estuary.” One of the first students to study in the centre is Jess Robson, 17, from Seaton Delaval. The former Astley Community High School pupil, said: “Moving into the new centre is amazing. We each have our own welding bay that we’re responsible for, so it means we get more chance to weld and will progress faster. “I first became interested in marine engineering after a school visit to the Port of Blyth and seeing the sub-sea equipment. “Then when I found out more about the welding course with Northumberland Skills, I thought it sounded perfect – and it’s just getting better now we have this new facility. “I was a bit nervous about being the only girl on the course – but I needn’t have been as we’re all good friends now. My friends were a surprised when I told them what I was doing, but now I tell everyone how great it is and encourage them to sign up – welding is the best! “It’s exciting being in the Port of Blyth and you get big companies visiting us, which is good for looking for apprenticeship opportunities." Dexter Sayers, 17, from Longhirst, is also enjoying the new facilities. The former KEVI student said: “My dad was a welder and I thought it would be something I would like to do to as I wanted to do something practical with my hands – and it’s also a job that can lead to all kinds of opportunities and take you all over the world. “This course sounded like an amazing opportunity. The facilities, equipment and the lecturers are all brilliant. You get lots of independence which I think is good for preparing you for work. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking to starting a career in welding.” Course lecturer, David Smith, brings with him a wealth of engineering expertise having worked with a number of the region’s leading manufacturing firms. He said: “I’m really excited about this opportunity to give more students the chance to take their first steps towards a career in engineering and to support those already working in the industry to continue to upskill. “Anyone interested in finding out more or coming for a look around and to speak to the team are welcome to get in touch.”

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