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TyneMet College and ABS Precision Advanced CNC Manufacturing Project

The project:

Discovering the advanced training needs of CNC manufacturing employers, and how the college can collaborate with businesses to meet them with bespoke programmes to upskill the current and future workforce.

It identified relevant employers, organised questionnaires, welcomed businesses into the college and took part in site visits to understand their specific training needs. Seven employers, including ABS Precision, CAV Aerospace, Armour Engineering and Dyer Engineering, took part in the programme.

The college view:

TyneMet’s deputy head of engineering, Neil Dorward, said:

There has been a decline in the sector that is now past the bottom and we’re starting to detect a rise. With that will come a skills need, so we need to find out about that and plan for the future, with training of a nature and level that employers need. Other than when manufacturers buy a new machine, there are very few places where they can get high-level training that’s fit for purpose.

Talking to employers has generated an interest in what the college can offer and what businesses are looking for. As a result, TyneMet now has staff in place to provide a new course, using the new equipment it purchased with money secured from the North East LEP in 2015.

Neil said:

What came out from employers was that they can’t surrender people at a higher level to college because of their production needs, although they can do that with newly recruited staff. We are going to have a one-day offer over around 10 weeks, so they can balance the cost of giving up a member of staff with the value of the training.

It will be scalable in the future and we will be able to introduce new machines and infrastructure to support it. Hopefully, it will fund itself.

The project boosted contacts between the college and businesses, and the HLHE funding speeded up the process.

We would’ve ultimately tried to do something similar but not so revealing, and it would’ve taken longer. It made a pipedream become realty in a much shorter space of time.

The employer’s view:

ABS Precision in Benton became involved after being contacted by TyneMet to ask for its input as an employer.

The company has a number of staff in their early 40s-late-50s who require higher level training to bridge the skills gap.

Quality manager Paul Ashpool said:

We take on people who are semi-skilled and need to be trained up to a skilled level. A lot of operators at a certain level could do with being at a higher level. We spend a lot of time programming machines, and we’d like them to be able to do that themselves. It’s the same across the industry.

The project has built strong links between ABS Precision and TyneMet. The college made site visits and ABS’s MD visited the college to find out what it can offer manufacturing businesses.

Paul said:

It definitely opened up our eyes to the facilities they have and we’ve seen things we can help them out with such as free tooling. Hopefully we’ll build a relationship that’s mutually beneficial with tooling and training. 

We’ve had input in to what we think people need training in and have helped to devise the curriculum, and it’s something we’ll get people on. The type of work our business does means it’s hard to find the bespoke training that we need. Before we’d used training providers, but they don’t tend to have the facilities that colleges do, so they go through middlemen. This has taken out the middleman.