Normand & Thomson are using Modern Apprenticeships as part of its development strategy to ensure it has a competent, skilled workforce to meet its Clients needs.
Normand & Thomson is a small Engineering firm based in Hillend, Fife who are an ECITB in-scope company who specialise in Fabrication and Welding, Pipework Assembly and Installation, Sheet Metal Work, Structural Steelwork, Thermal Insulation, Tanks, Steam Systems, CDM Coordination and Plant Installation. The range of engineering specialities offered by this company requires them to have a workforce with current and relevant skills set to deliver successful contracts and projects for their customers as well as win new contracts and tenders in order to be sustainable.
Like many engineering companies in Scotland Normand & Thomson were experiencing an aging workforce and had to consider succession planning as part of its strategy to plan for their future. Taking on Apprentices is not new to the company which it has been involved in over a number of years but this has always posed a challenge to the company mainly around meeting their Health and Safety obligations to the young inexperienced person and their experienced staff specifically in managing risks on site whilst giving an Apprentice relevant and appropriate experience. In the past this also presented logistical issues for the company regarding which Apprentices could join an engineering team to visit a worksite and problematic in offering a range of engineering experience. In order to overcome these issues the company has recently been recruiting young people who have previously undertaken a full time engineering course at College or have had relevant industrial experience. The company then agrees with individuals a period of evaluation, allowing them to gain experience with the company before committing to formal ECITB foundation training followed by appropriate vocational or Modern Apprenticeship qualifications.
In 2015 the company decided to upgrade 8 Learners who were all undertaking various levels of vocational or related ECITB learning programmes to an ECITB Modern Apprenticeship including a Diploma in Installing Engineering Construction Plant & Systems - Pipefitting at SCQF level 6.
George Louden - QA Manager with Normand & Thomson says ‘’we had a number of staff with a range of experience all undertaking various forms of Training and Vocational Learning’’. ‘’After speaking with our Training Provider MetTech UK we realised that essentially our staff were undertaking very similar industry based learning and assessments and it became clear that the difference in our staff achieving a Modern Apprenticeship Certificate was relatively small’’. ‘’We also had the issue raised by staff who perceived some individuals were being supported to a nationally recognised Apprenticeship standard whilst others were undertaking an ECITB vocational qualification’’. ‘’We wanted to support our workforce and develop their skills but we had to balance this against managing small trade teams of working on our clients sites throughout Scotland’’. ‘’As a company we have also signed up to the ECITB ‘Skills and Training Charter’, this includes making a commitment to training our workforce and specifically Apprenticeship Programmes to meet our future capability and capacity needs and we feel we are now doing this’’.
Pam Ringrose – Director at Engineering Training Provider MetTECH UK Ltd says ‘’we have had a long standing relationship of working with Normand & Thomson and the ECITB and we were invited to work with eight of their staff’’. ‘’From our meeting with the company we agreed to review and meet with the Learners to confirm what additional learning elements were required for them to achieve an ECITB Modern Apprenticeship qualification, identify an anticipated time frame to complete this framework and identify any funding available’’. ‘’This review was undertaken, missing elements were identified within a Training Agreement and it was confirmed we could proceed to register all 8 Learners ranging from 18 to 27 years of age with SDS to the ECITB Modern Apprenticeship qualification’’.
One of Normand & Thomson’s Apprentices Jamie Shepherd says ‘’We were being supported with Industry recognised training by our employer but some of us felt we were not all being supported to the same level i.e. to a Nationally recognised Modern Apprenticeship Framework so we raised this with Management’’. ‘’Thankfully our point of view was considered and after some discussion it was agreed we could all have the opportunity to achieve the same qualification’’. ‘’We all appreciated this opportunity to achieve a Modern Apprenticeship in Pipefitting with MetTECH and the ECITB where we can then apply our knowledge and skills to develop our career in engineering construction.
Paul Hynd – ECITB Account Manager says ‘’It has been really interesting working and supporting Normand & Thomson as a small specialist Engineering company in Fife who have worked hard to understand their Clients’ needs and invest in the most relevant and appropriate training for their workforce’’.
DP Services Ltd
DPS is a specialist industrial engineering company based in Scotland, which undertakes design, installation, commissioning, repair and maintenance of electrical, instrumentation and control systems throughout the UK, Europe & Globally.
The ECITB has been working with DPS since 2001 supporting their staff development programmes, especially in the area of electrical apprenticeships and project controls.
A new approach
In March 2015, Paul Hynd, ECITB Account Manager for Scotland met with DPS to discuss the potential of a new approach to training and development. Paul presented the ECITB’s Workforce Training & Development Plan. The plan takes a structured approach to training based on an in-depth analysis of training requirements linked to contract work and business needs.
This approach was well received by the DPS team who were keen to explore how this approach could be developed further by linking the plan to DPS’ In-House Training Skills Matrix.
Colin Millar DPS Managing Director said:
“Our workforce is our major asset and therefore it is important that we build upon what we have already achieved and look forward to working closer with ECITB in the future.”
DPS has since expressed that it would like to adopt the ECITB approach as a minimum standard and skills set for the company against specific job roles, also highlighting the numbers of individuals who are required within a calendar year.
Paul Hynd from the ECITB said:
“By using these tools to better understand the needs of the company like DPS, we can improve our ability to support the company in planning to meet its needs in future contracts, as well as our overall engagement and relationship. We know from our customers that anything that can assist them in planning to meet future client demands is beneficial.”
The ECITB believes that its approach offers many business benefits to companies, enabling them to plan their workforce training and development needs in the light of future tendering and contracts. By aligning its Workforce Training and Development Plans with a company’s plans, as in the case of DPS Training Skills Matrix it means that the ECITB can target its support where needed by a company.