SOUTH Tyneside College is helping to fill a skills gap - thanks to a £500,000 revamp of its welding facilities.
The upgrade aims to ensure it is the centre of choice for hundred of professionals keen to retrain, as well as the latest wave of school-leavers seeking qualifications and apprenticeship skills.
The college is firmly established as a major training centre of immense skill and qualityAlison Maynard
The investment also leaves the college well placed to help former armed forces personnel, as it is now an officially-accredited centre for their retraining.
The improvements are part of a £3m spend on new advanced manufacturing and engineering facilities.
As well as traditional hands-on welding machinery, there is a new computer-based ‘virtual’ capability which allows students to gain an understanding of the practicalities of the trade before entering a workshop.
The facilities, made up of three workshops and the virtual suite, were officially unveiled by Alison Maynard, South Tyneside Professional and Vocational College principal, and Adrian Hawkins, chief executive of Hertfordshire-based Weldability-Sif, which supplied the equipment and will give ongoing support as a long-standing college partner.
Ms Maynard says the new facilities will play an important part in addressing an estimated 50,000 shortfall in qualified welders in the UK.
She added: “These advanced facilities will benefit thousands of people over the coming years. They reflect our ambition and vision to move forward.
“The college is firmly established as a major training centre of immense skill and quality, and this investment confirms our ambition to always excel.
“As well as training young people and those more experienced, we are delighted to be embarking on the training of ex-Army personnel, which is a new chapter for us.