The Rt Hon Greg Hands MP, Minister of State for Clean Energy, Clean Growth and Climate Change, has officially opened Bridgwater & Taunton College’s Welding Centre of Excellence.
Situated at the Bridgwater campus, the Welding Centre of Excellence is a collaboration between BTC, Weldability Sif, the South West Institute of Technology (SWIOT), Hinkley Point C (HPC) and Heart of the South West LEP (HotSW LEP). The Centre is designed to train the next generation of professionals in the latest industry skills requirements and address skills shortages in welding and associated professions.
Training provided ranges from 12-week bootcamps for new entrants into the industry, to courses for those already working in the sector keen to upskill. With a clear focus on the specific technical skills required for welding and related areas, the Centre provides employers with a suitably skilled workforce and students with a clear route to technical employment in an exciting industry.
As well as cutting the ribbon to officially open the Centre, Mr Hands met a group of nine Level 3 Pipe Welding Apprentices, all employed by Cavendish Nuclear, part of Babcock International, and training to 9606-1 industry standard. The apprentices chatted with the Minister about their reasons for choosing welding and the Clean Energy sector, which included climate impacts, wanting to do something practical, and the being inspired by the proximity of the Hinkley Point site. The apprentices demonstrated a welding inspection activity for the Minister, which involved completing a formative assessment on test pieces, before Sam Tolchard showed Mr Hands an example of a welding bay and some of the industry-standard health and safety kit the students are trained to use. Finally, Mr Hands took part in a Virtual Welding activity, a resource that enables students to test their practical skills without all the associated hazards of real welding, such as sparks, heat fumes and UV light.
BTC Director of Commercial Development, Strategy and Partnerships Matt Tudor said
Collaboration has been at the heart of BTC’s response to skills needs in the region, and the Welding Centre of Excellence is one of the best recent examples of this collaborative approach. HPC highlighted the need for a high spec Welding Centre to train and test the welders they needed – and our experience meant that BTC had already anticipated that need. Through collaboration within the South West Institute of Technology, plans were submitted, Department for Education funding secured, and another key partner, the Weldability SIF Foundation, brought on board to provide expertise and support. The Welding Centre of Excellence is combining the aims of the Institute of Technology with those of HPC to reskill, upskill, test and provide career pathways for people into the world of welding. Investment from a collaborative working group of contractors, key stakeholders and the client HPC has been in place since the start, and recent investment by the MEH Alliance has been crucial to help align the Centre to the standards and specific skill sets that the industry needs. This group has ensured that we are truly delivering to the high quality and safety standards required by the nuclear agenda, and this means all other employers benefit from that approach too. The joined-up approach to creating the appropriate high-level welding centre that this region and the nation needed is a true model of success and one that we have used time and time again and will continue to be the model for the future. The success we see here today would not have been possible without the strategic partnerships with employers and industry groups, and we very much look forward to continuing our work together.”
For more information, visit the Welding Centre of Excellence page.