An innovative engineering firm and a North East college have kick-started a dynamic partnership to develop the next generation of talented engineers.

Ford Engineering Group has joined forces with Gateshead College to deliver a six-month traineeship which prepares young people with the attitudes, skills and knowledge required to start an apprenticeship in this sector.

A group of 32 successful candidates have now enrolled on the scheme and are studying at Gateshead College’s purpose-built Skills Academy for Automotive, Engineering, Manufacturing and Logistics, which contains the latest cutting-edge machinery and tooling equipment.

Chris Toon, deputy principal at Gateshead College, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with an internationally renowned engineering firm. The aim of the programme is to help Ford Engineering and the broader engineering community of the North East build an even stronger, productive workforce that can drive business growth and protect the company against future skills shortages.

“Together we can achieve this by giving young people the best preparation for the world of work. This scheme will provide them with the tools to embark on a successful apprenticeship and make their first step onto the engineering career ladder.

“This is one of a number of ways we are supporting these industries by working in partnership with employers and key industry professionals across Europe to introduce more people to STEM careers and subjects.”

Designed to help people move into an apprenticeship or a job, the programme equips trainees with core skills and competencies needed for key engineering tasks such as preparing and using milling machines and lathes, and producing mechanical engineering drawings using computer aided design (CAD) technology.

It also covers health and safety, work preparation methods, and literacy and numeracy skills which allow students to gain essential English and maths qualifications. They embark on a four-week work placement which provides valuable experience of a real-life engineering environment, and are given the chance to secure an apprenticeship at the end of the programme.

Ford Engineering and Gateshead College launched the scheme in a bid to help manufacturing and engineering firms plug skills gaps and build sustainable workforces for the future. 

Geoff Ford MBE, chairman at Ford Engineering, said: “There continues to be a chronic skills shortage in engineering. We need to be more proactive in developing and nurturing the next generation of skilled workers and protecting the future of the region’s businesses.

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“This programme with Gateshead College will help us to meet this challenge head-on. It also prepares young people for the world of work, giving them the technical skills they need and instilling in them the right attitude and work ethic that will help them forge a successful career.

“The training facilities at the academy are unrivalled and we’re glad to be working with a nationally recognised education provider that clearly understands the skills needs of businesses in the local engineering sector.”

Shaun Evans, age 16 from Hebburn recently enrolled on the course. He said: “I have gained a lot of understanding about the industry and the skills and attitude I need to have in a real working environment thanks to the traineeship. The course offers us the opportunity to learn on the best machinery while being taught by experts in engineering.

“I already feel more prepared and confident and look forward to completing the course and going on to the next step in my career.”

This is the latest milestone in a long-standing relationship between Gateshead College and Ford Engineering. The college runs apprenticeships at Ford’s sites across the region, and has also managed a project to upskill its employees and provide them with exciting engineering career opportunities.

To find out more about Gateshead College and the courses on offer, click here.   

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