North West’s first ever Welding Academy Launched
A new academy has been launched by North West Regional College (NWRC) to tackle the chronic shortage of skilled welders in Northern Ireland. Run in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council, the new Fabrication and Welding Academy, which currently has 15 students, is a first for the North West and aims to address the challenges faced by employers in accessing skilled welders locally.
Nicola Curry, NWRC, explained that the Business Support Centre at the College engages with local businesses to enhance the skill levels of the existing workforce and encourage innovation.She said: “It became apparent from a number of discussions with local engineering companies, that there was a clear shortage of new welding talent coming through the education system. “The proposed academy will provide a short-term sustainable solution to support the immediate skills shortages, currently experienced in the North West, with regard to accessing skilled talent in Fabrication and Welding.”
George Fleming from Fleming Agri is one local employer who has found recruiting skilled welders challenging. He said: “I welcome the launch of this academy today which will ensure that local companies can access skilled welders locally. There has been a long tradition of engineering manufacturing in the North West with good growth and development in recent years from local indigenous companies creating a strong demand for welding and fabrication skills in the region. We are delighted with the NWRC support for this skills demand and the support from the DSDC.”
The aim of the academy is to encourage greater collaboration between education and industry and to provide a sustainable solution to the skills shortages constraining the growth of the engineering and manufacturing sectors in the region. The first students of the Fabrication and Welding Academy will take part in a 12 week intensive Level 2 City and Guilds programme which will include four weeks of paid placement. Placements will be with local employers Fleming Agri, Global Equipment Spares, Mim-Ni, Fabplus Limited, Foyle Port and GB Engineering. It’s anticipated that on completion of the programme successful participants of the Fabrication and Welding Academy will have the opportunity to be interviewed for live employment opportunities locally. North West Regional College also run short courses in Mig and Tig welding on a part time basis from their Springtown and Greystone campuses.