Industry Leader Urges Apprentices To Seize Opportunities Of New Facility

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Tony Roche chatting with apprentice Annabel Wiles in the electrical engineering workshop.

Apprentices at a leading engineering training centre were challenged to make the most of their “top-class facilities” when the President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers called in for a fact-finding visit.

Tony Roche, who revealed it is now 60 years since his own days as an apprentice, told the young learners at Humberside Engineering Training Association (HETA) that the changing world is bringing more opportunities than ever, but he urged them to embrace the concept of lifelong learning.

Tony visited HETA’s new £4.5 million training centre in Dansom Lane South, Hull, as part of a tour of the region which also included stops at Howdens Joinery in Howden, the Siemens Gamesa factory in Hull and the University of Hull.

HETA was the only industry training organisation on the schedule and Tony made the most of the opportunity by addressing learners in the purpose-built lecture theatre and by chatting to the young people and their instructors over lunch and in the mechanical, electrical and fabrication and welding workshops.

HETA, which also has sites at Stallingborough and at Foxhills, Scunthorpe, relocated its Hull centre to the former premises of Eltherington Group during summer 2018. It was supported in the move by Hull City Council’s Economic Regeneration team and by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which secured £1.3-million from the Local Growth Fund through the Northern Powerhouse. Tony said it was money well spent.

He said: “This is an absolutely fantastic set up with top class facilities which enable these young people to get a real grasp of the basics of engineering. They are learning how to do things, how to do things safely and how to recognise the discipline of work as well, going to work, getting on with their mates.

“They are preparing for life as engineers and for life in its widest sense. The young people I have met are really enterprising, enthusiastic and aware of the privilege they have to actually get onto this course. We need more facilities like this.”

He told the apprentices: “You have got a lifetime in front of you of learning, learning, learning because technology is changing so rapidly now. You might have five, 10 even 15 jobs during your career.

“The demand for engineers is enormous wherever you go in the country and we are starting to see wages going up because there are not sufficient engineers to meet our country’s needs.”

His comments were reinforced by Dr Malcolm Joslin. The Chair of HETA, who worked at BP for more than 30 years, told the learners of the importance of joining such professional organisations as the Institution.

He said: “It’s great that the Institution recognises that HETA continues to strive to provide excellent training opportunities for companies in the area. We very much recognise the importance of professional organisations and we actively promote to our young learners the importance of getting involved with bodies such as the Institution.

“It is also important in terms of your progress and where you want to be in five, 10 or 20 years. Being an engineer is not just about having tools in your hand. There is a whole range of career options and senior opportunities for you to grow into.

“When I started at BP there was a glass ceiling. Without a degree you could get to supervisor level and that was it. By the time I left that ceiling had disappeared and if you joined as an apprentice you could go all the way. There are now people in senior posts at BP and many of the companies you work with who started as apprentices.

“There are some fantastic opportunities for you to build a career in the Humber region because we desperately need engineers and this is a fantastic part of the world to become an engineer.”