More than 30 young people from across south east Northumberland have been taking part in an on-site assessment programme which will lead to four of them getting picked for a new apprenticeship programme.
North east mining firm Banks Mining has formed a new partnership with Northumberland College with a view to appointing three apprentice mechanics and one apprentice welder who would work at its Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines.
After holding an initial open day at the College about the new scheme, Banks invited 32 applicants to visit the Shotton mine to talk about the work that the successful candidates would do, the training they would receive and the equipment that they would be using.
Managers at the site also talked to the candidates about their different skills, experience and qualifications, and were impressed by the high standard of the applicants.
Banks and Northumberland College spent two years developing the bespoke apprenticeships, which will include a comprehensive two-year training programme at the College as well as on-site work, and which has been created as part of Banks’ continuing commitment to providing direct benefits to the area through its local operations.
The scheme offers qualifications up to NVQ Level Three that are specifically relevant to the skills Banks requires, as well as helping the apprenticeships develop a wider range of skills and knowledge that they will be able to use throughout their working lives.
Banks is also making a range of equipment on site available for the College, including engines, hydraulic systems and excavator buckets, which reflects the equipment that the apprentices would work with on a daily basis.
A final interview shortlist is now being drawn up, with the successful applicants expected to start their apprenticeships in early October.
Around 140 people work at Banks’ Shotton site, alongside a further 60 at the neighbouring Brenkley Lane surface mine, and the two sites jointly contribute over £20m every year to the regional economy through wages and the local supply chain.
John Welsh, plant assets manager at Banks Mining, says: “Bringing these young people onto the Shotton site gave them a chance to get a close-up look at the sort of work they’d being doing and the environment in which they’d be doing it, and also gave us a chance to see and speak to them too.
“We’ve attracted a really high calibre of candidate and choosing a shortlist for interview, let alone identifying the successful candidates, is going to be a very difficult task.
“As a major employer in south east Northumberland, we feel that we have a responsibility to provide training and development opportunities for local young people who want to make their way in the world, and to help them gain skills that will not only serve them well whilst they’re working with us, but throughout their working lives.”
The College training programme will cover a range of different topic areas, including a competence-based NVQ which will be assessed in the workplace, and appropriate numeracy, literacy and ICT support will also be provided as required.
Mark Bolton, director of business development and partnerships at Northumberland College, adds: “Working with a wide range of regional employers to help meet their apprenticeship and staff training needs is a core part of the work that Northumberland College undertakes, and the bespoke programme we have developed with Banks will provide a fantastic opportunity for the successful candidates to take the first steps on a successful career.
“Providing training opportunities such as this has never been more important in helping young people develop the skills they need to succeed in the workplace, and we’re very pleased that there has been such strong interest in these new positions.
“The employability team at Northumberland College will continue to work with the candidates that are eventually unsuccessful in this instance in order to help move them into employment.”