A UNIQUE new training collaboration between an engineering giant and South Tyneside College is on track to play a significant role in the success of one of Britain’s biggest on-going transport projects.
Siemens and the college have set in motion a specialist 24-week programme on which the company’s apprentices will learn specific skills for work on the £6.5bn Thameslink rolling stock programme.
Technical experts from both have pooled knowledge to ensure Siemens’ training needs are fulfilled in one bespoke and exclusive package at the college’s engineering department.
A first group of a dozen 17 to 19-year-old apprentices started earlier this month and more are expected to follow as the Hebburn-based firm increases its project workforce towards an eventual 300-strong target.
The programme is helping Siemens fulfil its share of a £1.6bn slice of the overall contract for Thameslink, which is improving capacity over 140 miles of track north-south from Bedford to Brighton through London. But the company, which employs another 400 people in Hebburn and 2,000 across the North East, says the partnership is also important to maintaining its overall skills pool amid a national engineering sector skills shortage.
Manufacturing manager Matt Ovington said: “Siemens is one of the UK’s leading companies for apprentices.
“They are a very big part of our business and help ensure we have the right skills for our continued success.
“We very much see our apprenticeship programme as an investment in the young people of South Tyneside and the North East, and this collaboration with South Tyneside College is very much part of that.”
Brian Rowe, South Tyneside College’s engineering curriculum leader, said: “We were asked to supply very specific and bespoke training and responded quickly and effectively to that request.
“The college has a vibrant and highly-skilled engineering department and it is a measure of our high standards that a company of Siemens’ international reputation has chosen to work with us.
“We are also learning from this and are looking forward to continuing to work with the apprentices. This work is a feather in our cap.”
The partnership is the latest stage in Siemens’ crucial Thameslink role for which it is making a range of hi-tech components, including electrical harnesses for rail carriages, over the next three and a half years.
About 40 Siemens staff are already employed on Thameslink with the contract seeing up to 300 highly-skilled workers being recruited as the contract moves up a gear.
The apprentices are one year into four years of training, from which they will qualify as craftsmen.