From education to employment

New apprenticeship starts up nearly a third at South West Durham Training

A County Durham engineering training provider has announced its new apprenticeship starts are up nearly a third this autumn. 

The excellent news for South West Durham Training coincides with the launch of a national campaign today promoting engineering to young people.

The Royal Academy of Engineering is running the second ‘This is Engineering Day’ on Wednesday (November 4th), themed ‘Be the difference’, to encourage more young people from all backgrounds to take up engineering careers.

RAE has released figures showing that every year the UK is short of up to 59,000 engineers, while only 12% of the engineering workforce are female and just 9% are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.

The Academy says the narrow image of an engineer is reinforced online by endless pictures of white men in hard hats, deterring the next generation from joining the profession. It has released a number of films focusing on nine real-life engineering heroes whose work helps make a difference in the world.

From mitigating flooding and addressing climate change to making farming easier and improving healthcare, they show young people how they can ‘Be the difference’ if they choose engineering as a career, no matter what subjects they enjoy at school.

South West Durham Training has been training the engineers of the future for more than 50 years from its state-of-the-art training centre in Aycliffe Business Park, and supports a wide range of engineering employers across the region.

Chief Executive Stuart Johnson said:

“We are delighted to report that our new apprenticeship starts are up by 32% this autumn, particularly given the difficult current economic conditions.

“We have seen a combination of existing employers growing their apprenticeship provision and improving their investment with us and new employers taking more apprentices on, which is excellent news given the national shortage of engineers the Academy is highlighting today.”

One of SWDT’s current apprentices, Steven Lowe-Smith (pictured), an Engineering Technician at Mill Masters International in Newton Aycliffe, is also urging other young people interested in engineering to take an apprenticeship.

Steven, 18, of Newton Aycliffe, who is taking an Advanced Apprenticeship in Engineering Technician – Toolmaking and Tool Die Maintenance (Standard), said:

“I’ve done a range of different subjects, including pneumatics, machining, electrical and mechanical maintenance.

“From working with a range of different tutors I have picked up practical and theory based skills which I can put together to help me in the workplace. I would recommend this apprenticeship due to the massive range of different activities – practical and theory – that we do.”

Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, added:

“Today we’re calling for even more partners to celebrate This is Engineering Day as we continue our work to transform the image of engineering so that many more talented young people from all backgrounds can see a future for themselves in this vital and rewarding profession.”

  • South West Durham Training, which has also launched a new website to coincide with ‘This is Engineering Day’ at, is holding a virtual open event from 5pm to 7pm on Thursday November 26th. Register to take part at

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

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