From education to employment

Minister meets apprentices at training centre visit

The vital importance of apprenticeships to the region’s engineering and manufacturing sectors was stressed today during a Ministerial visit to South West Durham Training.

Sounding his support for National Apprenticeship Week, Minister for Skills Alex Burghart praised the work of staff and students undergoing technical training at the Newton Aycliffe centre. Minister Burghart, a former history teacher who was previously Parliamentary Private Secretary to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was joined on his visit by Sedgefield MP Paul Howell as they met apprentices from some of the region’s key employers including Glaxo Smith Kline, 3M UK and Hitachi Rail.

They enjoyed a tour of the centre led by Operations Manager Steve Harrison with an outline of the curriculum offer, including a briefing on the full range of apprenticeships offered and the regional employers which South West Durham Training supports.

Minister for Skills Alex Burghart said: “It was brilliant to meet with apprentices and staff at South West Durham Training, which is providing vital technical training for the local engineering and manufacturing sector through the power of apprenticeships.

“Apprenticeships are a superb way for people of all ages to develop the skills they need to progress across a huge range of exciting and in demand industries, with the benefit of earning and learning on the job.”

National Apprenticeship Week, the 15th annual week-long celebration of apprenticeships, aims to shine a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

This year’s theme is ‘build the future’, reflecting on how apprenticeships can help individuals to develop the skills and knowledge required for a rewarding career, and businesses to develop a talented workforce that is equipped with future-ready skills.

Natalie Davison-Terranova, Principal and Chief Executive of Bishop Auckland College, said: “It is very fitting that the Minister’s visit coincides with National Apprenticeship Week and we were delighted to be able to showcase the superb facilities at South West Durham Training today.

“We are lucky to work with so many fantastic employers across the region, who provide amazing opportunities for our apprentices and full-time students as they build the future for our engineering and manufacturing sectors.”

Pictured (l-r) are: SWDT Operations Manager Steve Harrison, GSK apprentice Libbi Wheeler, 17, from Ferryhill, Sedgefield MP Paul Howell and Minister for Skills Alex Burghart at today’s visit to South West Durham Training.

Paul Howell MP added: “I would like to thank Steve Harrison for taking Minister Burghart and myself on this informative tour of the centre and finding out how SWDT puts the apprentices and students at the heart of all that they do so that they can reach their full potential.

“SWDT has had many notable former apprentices over its 54-year history including Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport and Caraline Robinson, Operations Director at Husqvarna UK, whose UK headquarters are just a few yards away from the SWDT centre. I am really pleased to see the ongoing development of apprenticeships; they are an outstanding route to some fantastic employment options for so many people.”

South West Durham Training is holding an additional open day during the February half term where school leavers can meet staff, tour the centre and find out about full-time courses and apprenticeships starting this September including electrical installation, fabrication and welding, and plumbing.

The event is being held from 2pm on Thursday February 24th at the centre on Aycliffe Business Park and people wishing to attend can register at or email [email protected] or call 01325 313194.

South West Durham Training is part of the Bishop Auckland College Group.

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