North East manufacturer BEL Engineering has launched an apprentice training school on Tyneside as part of a £300,000 collaboration.
The Newcastle company – part of major regional employer British Engines – has formed a partnership with Japanese tool manufacturer DMG Mori, which has its UK base in Coventry, to nurture and develop apprentices, to meet growing demands for skilled professionals in the manufacturing industry.
First year apprentices at the training school will undergo an intensive 36 week programme, combining classroom and hands-on learning, to equip them with practical skills and in-depth knowledge. The new training school marks a departure from the traditional apprenticeship model, where apprentices typically shadow machinists in their first year.
The training centre will provide a learning environment that extends beyond traditional classroom settings, taking apprentices through a curriculum comprising of 20 modules before they sit a final exam at the end of the year.
Throughout the programme, apprentices spend half of the day learning hands-on, and spend the rest of the day in classroom-based learning, covering, amongst other subjects, health and safety, cutting tools and geometric tolerancing.
The enhanced programme will be delivered to apprentices in conjunction with the British Engines Group four-year Apprenticeship+ programme, where apprentices spend the first 20 weeks at TDR Training in Benton, Newcastle. After the 20 weeks, apprentices will join one of eight businesses within the British Engines Group whilst studying one day a week at TDR Training.
In years three and four of their apprenticeship, apprentices have the opportunity to complete a HNC in mechanical engineering and a HND in general engineering.
As part of the training programme, apprentices have the opportunity to visit BEL Engineering’s main customers, and vice versa.
Jonathan Lamb, chairman at BEL Engineering, said the hands-on experience allows apprentices to witness first-hand how customers operate and understand the critical role of precision engineering.
Mr Lamb said: “The collaboration between DMG Mori and BEL Engineering represents our commitment to bridging the skills gap in the manufacturing sector. We are confident that this partnership will produce highly skilled apprentices who will go on to become valuable contributors to our industry.”
In September, BEL Engineering will welcome 12 apprentices, an increase from four in 2022. The firm said the expansion reflects the commitment of BEL Engineering and the training school to meet the growing demand for skilled individuals in the manufacturing sector. Overall, the British Engines Group will welcome 31 new apprentices.