In-Comm Training and RTX’s Collins Aerospace take off with ‘fast track’ employment course to create up to 65 advanced engineers
In-Comm Training has joined forces with one of Wolverhampton’s largest employers, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to help unemployed people into advanced manufacturing jobs.
The independent training provider, which operates two state-of-the-art technical academies in Aldridge and Telford, has created a fast-track course that will aim to create up to 65 new CNC machinists and electro-mechanical fitters for RTX’s Collins Aerospace factory in Wolverhampton.
A pilot scheme for the first cohort of ten people started in January, with each participant receiving a mix of theoretical and practical technical training that will see them learn turning, milling, hand fitting, CAD CAM and 3 and 5-axis CNC machining, as well as understanding technical drawings.
Backed by over £200,000 of Higher Level Skills funding by the WMCA, the ground-breaking course will take just six months to complete.
At the end of it, each learner will receive a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering and Technologies, additional on-the-job competences, and an interview/opportunity to gain full-time employment at Collins Aerospace’s Wolverhampton facility.
DWP, who play a key role in the initial recruitment phase, has also agreed to continue to pay each individual’s benefits for the duration of the course.
“We are continually working with employers to overcome barriers to sustainability and growth through the right talent attraction and development, taking that valuable insight and creating training programmes that deliver future workers, vital competences and skilled engineers,” explained Gareth Jones, Managing Director of In-Comm Training.
“The aerospace industry has seen first-hand the impact of the current skills shortage, a skills shortage that has been exacerbated by Covid-19.
“With the niche skills required to be a CNC Machinist and electro-mechanical fitter, the talent isn’t readily available and, the only way to overcome this, is to create the next generation of engineers.”
He continued: “This is why we’ve developed a fast-track option to initially equip 10 individuals with the skills and Level 3 qualification required to work on the manufacturing shopfloor at Collins Aerospace in Wolverhampton.
“We have worked really closely to develop the content of the course and were able to introduce an innovative partnership with DWP, whilst accessing funding from WMCA to bring the programme to reality.”
Wolverhampton-based Collins Aerospace has used In-Comm Training for its apprenticeship scheme since 2018, with the latest training being delivered predominantly at the provider’s Technical Academy in Telford.
Learners have been inducted and completed environmental, health and safety training and have now moved onto engineering theory and honing practical skills.
To enhance engagement even further, participants will also be partly trained on the Collins Aerospace site in Wolverhampton, giving them full exposure to the aerospace world and culture.
Cathy Taylor, Business Development Manager with the Black Country Jobcentres, added her support:
“We are pleased to be working with In-Comm Training to support Collins Aerospace’s local recruitment needs.
“Jobcentres across the Black Country have been promoting the bespoke training programme, which delivers an intensive 6 months of learning, leading to a full-time job opportunity and well-paid career with the global aerospace supplier.
“This is a unique opportunity for motivated jobseekers, who already hold a level 2 in maths and aspire to obtain a Level 3 qualification in Engineering and Technologies and gain employment in the manufacturing sector.”
The pilot course is part of a £429,000 ‘Higher Level Skills’ funding package In-Comm Training secured from the WMCA to help the region bridge the skills gap facing manufacturing.
There are plans in place to recruit for a second cohort in June, with the overall aim of developing up to 65 engineers by the end of 2025.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, concluded: “We’ve identified Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering as one of our priority sectors in our region’s Plan for Growth.
“This partnership between DWP, Collins Aerospace and In-Comm Training shows how WMCA skills funding can align with a high-growth sector, enabling local people to upskill in this field and boosting their employment prospects at the same time. It will also provide the sector with the workforce talent required to increase productivity and fuel growth.
“In-Comm has developed a flexible skills offer to help local residents access training – supporting their future career prospects, as well as their wider health and wellbeing in the months and years ahead.”
Keisha Sasa is one of the first participants on the In-Comm Training ‘fast track’ course and is already eyeing a long-term future in the aerospace manufacturing sector.The 25-year-old had already secured an aerospace engineering degree from the University of Wolverhampton but was finding a lack of shopfloor craft and technical experience was hampering her efforts to get a first job in the industry.
That is why she jumped at the opportunity to join the programme, which helps her gain practical hands-on experience and, importantly, guarantees her the chance of an interview once she is qualified.
“It can be really frustrating trying to break into a specific sector, especially when you feel you have the qualifications you need to be given a ‘go’ in it,” explained Keisha, who moved back in with her parents to be closer to In-Comm Training’s Technical Academy.
“When I heard about this course, I knew I had to be part of it. The chance to gain the ‘missing’ shopfloor experience was really important and the fact we could do it in just six months really appealed.”
She continued: “I now know that if I complete the course and gain the Level 3 qualification, I will be given an interview and the chance to start a well-paid job with amazing prospects to develop in the sector.
“Collins Aerospace is such a big name in aerospace and there are lots of opportunities to progress within the business, which is located just a few miles from my parents.”
Keisha has already impressed her tutors at In-Comm Training with her passion for the engineering discipline and is now on to her second assessment and learning more about lathes and part turning techniques.
She will quickly move on to CNC machining and programming, an area of the training she is really looking forward to.
“The course has been great so far and everyone has been really supportive and willing to lend a hand if you need it – we’re one big team, with people of all ages and from different backgrounds!” added Keisha.
“Our tutor Paul has time for all of us and his knowledge is second to none, which we are all benefitting from. At the same time, he can be very strict on tolerances, so gaining the qualification is not a given.”
She concluded: “We are still receiving Universal Credit whilst the training is taking place and, for me, that is a real plus and gives you the freedom to really focus on doing well and getting the job at the end of it.”
Keisha’s story is a perfect example of why University isn’t always the best route into the engineering and aerospace sectors.
Starting with an apprenticeship and then progressing through to higher technical qualifications and/or a degree, provides the stronger competence employers are increasingly looking for.
Anyone who is unemployed and interested in this programme should email email@example.com for more information about the next cohort.”
For further information, please contact us or follow us on our socials to stay up to date with industry news and updates from In-Comm Training. More details on Collins Aerospace can be found at www.collinsaerospace.com