According to Broadwater, the first group of four apprentices in the program are all on track to gain an EAL verified Level 3 NVQ Diploma in ‘Composite Engineering’ (QCF) upon the successful completion of all the theory and practical modules of the program in July 2016. This bespoke training program is equipping the apprentices with both the academic knowledge about composites, as well as vital production skills needed to work in any of the diverse FRP parts fabrication operation areas in the Broadwater Mouldings main factory in Suffolk, UK.
Broadwater Mouldings explains that, being a design engineering and composites manufacturing SME, having a highly flexible, multi-skilled workforce is vital to them. Ideally, individual shop floor operators and supervisors should all have the knowledge and fabrication skills needed for the wide range of FRP composites moulding processes carried out in its factory, from hand lay-up, to cold press moulding and full resin transfer moulding (RTM), as well as tool making and machining; this custom designed Broadwater apprenticeship scheme has this objective in mind, as well as to train, develop and retain younger talent within the business.
Due to a lack of a suitable national scheme available locally in East Anglia, after taking independent advice, the MD of Broadwater Mouldings, Matt Herbert, took the initiative to engage Consuta Training to work with Broadwater to build its own composites production processing apprenticeship scheme. It says, the new in-house training program had to not only to meet the specific needs of the business, but also to comply with nationally recognised standards. Guidance with the content of this new apprenticeship program to attain NVQ level 3 diploma level standards, along with the final verification of the qualification, was provided by EAL, with additional program development support from the College of West Anglia and Solutions 4 Polymers Ltd; EAL is the specialist, employer-recognised awarding organisation in the UK for the engineering, manufacturing, building services and related sectors.
Chris Little of Consuta worked closely with Broadwater’s Training Officer, Louise Coulson, to develop a range of practical modules that suited their production requirements, balanced by the academic leaning that needed to be included in order to satisfy EAL to award the level 3 NVQ diploma validation to this new three year apprenticeship program; the diploma is broadly split 60/40 between practical and theory.
Matt Herbert commented, “We are really delighted with the progress being made by our apprentices and the positive feedback about the program, which seems to have a good balance between lecture room theory and hands on application on the shop floor. The Broadwater management team recognised that we needed to avoid any future skills gaps in five to ten years’ time due to our highly skilled, yet aging workforce. To avoid this, we realised that we needed to be proactive to secure these key skills for the future. Our apprenticeship program initiative not only serves to strengthen the skills base within the business, but it also provides much needed opportunities for young people in the area to enter the exciting and diverse industry that is composites manufacturing. We will almost certainly be running this apprenticeship program again after the current apprentices finish in July 2016”.
Photo provided by Broadwater Mouldings
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