During National Apprenticeships Week in February, Feryal Clark, the MP for Enfield North, visited our Enfield centre, to celebrate the week with us and meet some of the staff who deliver our engineering and construction apprenticeships, as well as our apprentice students.
During her visit, Feryal had a tour of the centre with CONEL’s Vice Principal Robin Hindley and Strategic Adviser for Engineering Development, Barry Connelly. She saw the London Rail Academy that we run, which trains students for careers in rail engineering, and the new London Welding Academy – which we have set up with the construction giant Ardmore – as well as the centre’s high quality sports facilities, and hairdressing and beauty salons.
The apprentices at our London Rail Academy are mostly recruited directly by rail companies (including Bombardier, Alstom and Transport for London) and the Academy delivers rail-specific training to around 200 apprentices, 80 of whom are Enfield residents.
The college set-up the London Welding Academy, which will provide apprenticeship training for off-site manufacturing specialist Paddington, part of the Ardmore Group, in just 28 weeks – very quick for this type of specialist provision. CONEL and Ardmore have committed to running the academy for five years and Ardmore has provided welding masks, equipment and metal to develop apprentices’ skills. 21 apprentice welders started in January 2022 with a joint commitment with Ardmore to start a similar number of welding apprentices every year for the next five years.
Robin Hindley said: “Our Enfield centre is a fantastic site and it was great to have the opportunity to meet Feryal and show her what we do here. Feryal is a real supporter of apprenticeships and can see the incredible value they offer to learners, and she appreciated the chance to meet some of our apprentices and find out more about their courses. She was very impressed by the teaching and learning facilities that we provide.
“We also talked through some of the policy changes that we want to see, especially the positive impact that free courses have on students, and our thoughts on T Levels. We also explained about how being part of CCCG has helped the college stay strong and win new business, like the Green Mayor’s Academy Hub, and the benefits that we bring to Enfield and its residents. Feryal really enjoyed her visit and wants to come back in the future. I look forward to welcoming her back!”
The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) and construction giant Ardmore have launched the London Welding Academy to give a skills boost to the construction industry and support the capital’s economic recovery.
The COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit have exacerbated a national skills shortage in the construction sector with 217,000 new workers needed by 2025.
The number of welders in the UK has fallen by a quarter in five years. Half the nation’s welders are expected to retire by 2027, creating 36,000 new jobs to ease the housing crisis.
The new academy at the college’s Enfield Centre, will provide apprenticeship training for off-site manufacturing specialist Paddington, part of the Ardmore Group based in Brimsdown.
CONEL and Ardmore have committed to running the academy for five years and Ardmore has provided welding masks, equipment and metal to develop apprentices’ skills.
The first group of 20 welding apprentices began their training in January and talks are already under way to extend the academy to include joinery and stonemasonry skills.
Barry Connelly, CONEL’s Strategic Adviser for Engineering Development, said: “Welders are essential to many industries, from shipbuilding, aerospace, oil and gas to automotive, construction, boiler making, pharmaceuticals, agriculture and engineering.
“Welding is no longer the dirty, low paid job that many people imagine. New technologies make it clean, safe and more importantly a well-paid industry.
“Over the past five years the number of welders in the UK has shrunk by approximately 25 per cent, with more than 100 vacancies being advertised on Indeed each month.
“There are a limited number of welding training providers in London, and many do not offer a specific welding apprenticeship to train and develop welders to the professional standards that industry requires.
“That’s why we’re very excited to launch the London Welding Academy with Ardmore, which will provide skilled workers to meet the demands of the industry and support the UK’s economic recovery.”
Ardmore began looking for an apprenticeship training provider in May 2021 after deciding to return to its previous business model of growing and developing its own workforce.
The company worked with CONEL to develop a Welding Level 3 Apprenticeship training programme that will help Paddington fill its skills gap by employing local people on good salaries to work on its developments across the UK.
Apprentices will complete training, which normally takes 2-3 years, within 18 months. Those who successfully qualify are guaranteed jobs with Paddington, working on a range of developments from commercial and residential schemes to world-class hotels.
Cormac Byrne, Managing Director of Ardmore, said: “We’re used to doing things differently at Ardmore. Not many construction companies can boast their own supply chain and create something as important to the local and national economy at such pace.
“We build world-class buildings like the Ned, Corinthia London, and the Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square, and for that we need world-class craftspeople. What better way to ensure you’ve got those people than by training your own?
“We’re training local people and putting them on some of London’s most important projects. The experience and skills they will get from being part of the welding academy will set them up for fulfilling careers.
“I must also thank CONEL for their help, and support in creating a relationship built on trust and openness, that has allowed us to achieve this goal.
“We’re excited to have already started working with our first cohort of apprentices and look forward to seeing them develop into highly-skilled craftspeople.”