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Wednesday, 04 September 2013 19:02

Cast-Iron Future - South East Metal firms join forces to plug skills gap

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semta logoApprentices are being sought to follow a career in industry through a unique partnership to capitalise on the resurgence in engineering and advanced manufacturing.

Skills body Semta has joined forces with the Institute of Cast Metal Engineers to develop advanced apprenticeship programmes with foundries in the south east of England.

Companies in Kent and south London have committed to taking on apprentices to fill vacancies which are being created by the retirement of highly skilled workers.

Those young people who successfully complete the programme will achieve a diploma in casting from EAL – the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications.

Semta’s apprenticeship director Bill Twigg hailed the move as a significant step forward with at least six new jobs expected to be created in the first phase, quickly followed by many more.

Mr Twigg said: “Casting is a fundamental part of the UK’s Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering sector supplying highly engineered components parts for the automotive, aerospace, oil and gas, energy supply industries and telecommunications.

“The booming car industry in the UK, the expansion of commercial aircraft engine sales and investment in nuclear and renewables, such as wind energy, present a fantastic opportunity for companies.

“Earlier this year the first foundry graduates in 20 years were honoured after they successfully completed a new Foundation Degree in Casting developed at Bradford College.
“We are delighted to be working with ICME again this time with companies in the Kent and south London areas to develop home-grown skills which will ensure casting remains an integral part of UK industry for many years to come.”

The employers taking part are: M J Allen, Aeromet International, Stone Foundry, Essex Replica and W H Rowe.

Dr Pam Murrell, chief executive of the ICME, said while many foundries had taken on apprentices in recent years, they have generally been in machining and maintenance rather than in foundry skills as it had not been possible to source the necessary technical educational programmes to underpin the apprenticeships.

Dr Murrell said: "These are companies who are supplying world class components to the automotive and aerospace industry. The lack of supply of qualified technicians and castings engineers for these companies is a concern.

"Now that we have the EAL diploma in casting, approved by Semta, we have a formal programme to deliver the necessary underpinning knowledge in casting technology.

"I am optimistic that through this innovative approach, working closely with local employers, we can start to train the technicians needed."

There are approximately 400 operating foundries in the UK with a combined turnover approaching £2.2bn pa and the industry employs at least 17,000 people producing around 550,000 tonnes of castings per year, supplying all areas of the advanced manufacturing industry.

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