Over the past five decades more than 10,000 young engineers have completed their apprenticeships at South West Durham Training.
Many now work in senior positions as far afield as Australia, the US, China and Dubai. Alumni include the Chief Executive of Gatwick Airport Stewart Wingate, the former MD of car parts maker Nifco UK Mike Matthews MBE and comedian Vic Reeves.
Today the centre works with major employers across the North-East, including Hitachi Rail, GSK, Husqvarna, 3M and Thorn Lighting, as well as Cummins in Darlington, Richmond-based Pipeline Engineering, part of the multinational Circor Group, Ebac, MTE Ltd and Nifco UK in Stockton.
Apprenticeship packages and commercial programmes are tailored to the demands of these and other local employers, with training offered from Level 1 and 2 through to higher education provision at Level 4 and 5.
All engineering students at SWDT, both apprentices and those on full time courses, complete the full-time Level 2 NVQ in Performing Engineering Operations – choosing from electrical and mechanical maintenance, fabrication and welding, or precision engineering – before progressing to a L3 Advanced Apprenticeship or L3 Diploma.
Global healthcare giant GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK), which employs more than 1,000 people at its manufacturing site in Barnard Castle is one of SWDT’s key employer partners. Two of its latest apprentices Summer Anderson and Daniel Collinson told how they are enjoying their training.
Summer, 19, of Middlesbrough, said: “I am finding my apprenticeship to be very enjoyable. Every day is different and I feel my confidence is improving. There is a good mixture of theory and practical on a daily basis and we are provided with any support that we need. The apprenticeship has also allowed us to get to know each other better and our team work skills have developed massively.”
Daniel, 18, of Bishop Auckland, who is completing his Level 3 BTEC qualification at SWDT as part of his multi-skilled engineering apprenticeship with GSK, said: “The time I have spent at
SWDT has taught me a lot of new skills, which I have developed and built on each day. I have faced many different challenges and new experiences whilst thoroughly enjoying the course.”
SWDT was the first training centre in the country to gain Centre of Vocational Excellence status, back in 2002. The Chief Inspector of Adult Learning in his annual report that year described SWDT as ‘world class’.
It was also the first member of the Group Training Association of England ever to have received an outstanding grade across all areas of provision from Ofsted.
In 2014 a partnership between Bishop Auckland College and SWDT was launched. Together they offer a wide range of training courses across numerous trade areas, including Advanced and Higher Apprenticeships, HNCs and HNDs in engineering, and commercial training.
(Pic caption) GSK apprentices Summer Anderson and Daniel Collinson.