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Generation NE helps plug welding skills gap

The Generation NE programme has helped 10 young people gain welding apprenticeships as the industry works to bridge its skills gap.

Apprentices from the Generation NE programme

Youth unemployment advisors and business advisors from the programme have been working alongside Infinite Learning and Development and Caterpillar to appoint the apprentices.

The trainee welders, aged between 18 and 22, will spend their initial four months at The Welding Academy completing practical training and their VRQ Qualification.

They will then move on to the shop floor at Caterpillar Peterlee where they will complete the NVQ element of their City & Guilds Engineering Level 2.

Helen Hopper, employee services manager at Caterpillar Articulated Trucks, said: “Approximately four years ago, we were looking into the market to try and recruit experienced welders, but found that in the North East there was a shortage.

“Since we partnered with Infinite Learning and Development and developed this bespoke Welding Level 2 apprenticeship programme, we have seen the retention rate for welding staff stabilise with approximately 90% of these ‘Junior Welders’ retained on completion of the programme, and the majority moving on to a start their Level 3 qualifications.

“The standard of welder produced, proves that the training programme is working and it’s in Caterpillar’s best interests to keep the programme and the success story going.”

The youth employment programme, Generation NE, is a collaboration between five local authorities, including Durham County Council, and the NE LEP, which is working with local businesses to support up to 2,000 young people aged between 17 and 24 years into sustainable employment over the next three years.

Cllr Neil Foster, cabinet member for regeneration and economic development at Durham County Council, added: “This is another great example of how the Generation NE programme is helping to link companies which have vacancies with potential candidates.

“As well as helping employers to find new recruits the scheme also offers tailored support to young people to help them gain the skills and qualifications they need. I wish all of these apprentices every success in their future career.”

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