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Darwen based Engineering & Fabrication company WEC Group have once again been named as the North West Large Employer of the Year in the regional leg of the National Apprenticeship Awards 2020, beating much larger organisations to the top spot for the third consecutive year.
The National Apprenticeship Awards competition provides local businesses from a range of sectors with the opportunity to celebrate their achievements of outstanding apprentices, apprentice employers and individuals. Apprenticeships are now widely available from a diverse and growing range of sectors, who are all committed to providing exceptional training programmes for local individuals.
Kris Mercer, Training and Development Manager at WEC Group Ltd said “We are absolutely ecstatic to have been named as the North West’s Large Apprenticeship Employer of the Year 2020. Being recognised as the Top Employer in the North West for the third year in a row is a testament to all the hard work that we have put in to develop our successful Apprenticeships scheme and in-house welding academy.
Apprenticeships are at the heart of our continued growth and success and we believe that our apprenticeship programme is leading the way to bridge the gap between education and the actual needs of engineering employers locally. Over 200 apprentices have now trained in our Academy and many of them have progressed within the organisation allowing our company to treble in size.”
The training academy opened its doors in 2006 and has since skilled up over 200 apprentices in various advanced disciplines including welding and fabrication, mechanical engineering and CNC machining. Over 50% of our welding workforce in Lancashire are current or former apprentices trained in their academy, creating an above average skill level of employees enabling them to win international contracts which were previously beyond their reach.
It has been a challenging year for Apprenticeships, with a recorded 46% drop in the number of apprenticeship positions created in September 2020, but WEC have forged ahead with their plans to build a new 25,000ft² state-of-the-art Training School in Blackburn to expand and diversify their award-winning Apprenticeship scheme. Planning permission was granted for the new Academy during the first lockdown and building work has now started in August 2020. The WEC Apprentices have begun fabrication of the structural steel work for the building which is expected to be erected by December 2020.
The new training school will allow the group to double their intake of apprentices and will create new vacancies, including an additional Training Instructor role. WEC Group are now actively recruiting for their next intake of 25 apprentices with start date in January 2021, with vacancies still available in Blackburn with Darwen, Rotherham, Coventry, and Sherburn-in-Elmet. The new apprentices will play a key role in building and fitting out of the new Training Academy in Blackburn alongside their Training Instructors.
Kris Mercer added “We are now looking ahead to the National Apprenticeship Awards on Wednesday 25th November and are hoping to bring the National Large Employer of the Year Award back to Darwen.”
WEC Group would like to express their appreciation to everyone who continues to make their Apprenticeship Training Academy a success, and a huge thank you to the apprentices who have worked tirelessly throughout an exceptionally challenging year.