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A group of 12 people from Cumbria, including those who have been long-term unemployed, have taken the first steps to securing a job in the engineering construction industry as they began a Trainee Maintenance Operative Work Ready Programme.

The cohort, aged 19+, will gain recognised skills and accredited qualifications as part of a 16-week programme that comprises three weeks of work placements involving core engineering trades with 12 guaranteed job roles at the end.

They will follow a vocational qualification in fabrication and welding processes, maintenance techniques and hand-fitting skills. On successful completion of the programme, they will secure jobs with Jacobs Field Services and Shepley and will be deployed onto the Sellafield site for its *PPP contract.

Work Ready is a collaborative and co-funded partnership between a college, local employers, the ECITB and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

The Cumbrian programme is being delivered by Lakes College and funded under its adult education budget. Additional support to the programme has also come from Inspira, a career management and personal development organisation operating in the North West of England.

But this is just the start. The Cumbrian cohort is the first to kick off this year with more set to start across the country next month.

Additional programmes are in the pipeline, designed to create a pipeline of new entrants and help address skills gaps in the engineering construction industry, with the ECITB’s Labour Forecasting Tool predicting a 28% increase in demand for workers by 2028.

Work Ready helping grow new entrant pathways into industry

ECITB Chief Executive Andrew Hockey said: “The pilot Work Ready programme at Pembrokeshire College in 2023 was a big success with all learners who completed the programme gaining employment. It shows the real benefits of adopting a collaborative approach.

“The ECITB’s strategy, Leading Industry Learning, sets out our plans to grow new entrant pathways, like Work Ready, into the engineering construction industry.

“I would like to wish all learners the best of luck on their journey and future careers.”

Referrals for the Work Ready programmes came via DWP’s Jobcentres, with unemployed candidates being put forward for interview.

As well as being introduced to skills related to health and safety, rigging and mechanical joint integrity, the programme also involves learners achieving a Level 2 Diploma in Performing Engineering Operations.

*Programme and Project Partners (PPP) is a 20-year partnership created to drive collaboration and change the way major projects are delivered at Sellafield.

Wayne Jackson, Operations Director at Jacobs Field Solutions, said: “Given the current skills shortage in the nuclear industry, the Work Ready programme has offered Jacobs the opportunity to work alongside the ECITB to introduce a local opportunity to the long-term unemployed.

“The course provides hands-on training, valuable skills, and sector experience, while supporting the local economy and fostering a community-based skilled workforce for the future.”

Mike Brown, Director of Operations at Shepley Group, said: “Working closely with the ECITB, the Work Ready programme has enabled the Shepley group to offer opportunities of employment to some long-term unemployed people of West Cumbria.

“It provides essential training and preparation for working on the Sellafield site, which will get individuals back onto the employment ladder and learn new skills.”

Iain Glendinning, Vice Principal at Lakes College, said: “This programme and partnership represents a fantastic opportunity for individuals to develop the skills needed to gain meaningful, long-term employment.

“At Lakes College we are totally committed to supporting the needs of people in West Cumbria, as well as helping our employer partners address skills needs in the engineering and construction industries.”

 Find out more about the Work Ready Programme

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