WEC Group named UK's best at apprenticeship awards

WEC Group, the Darwen-based engineering and fabrication company, has been named the UK’s Large Employer of the Year at the National Apprenticeship Awards 2020.

The event celebrates the achievements of outstanding apprentices and apprentice employers who champion the benefits of apprenticeships, and attracts more than 1,000 entrants across 10 categories.

WEC Group has been recognised for its consistent track record of providing excellence in apprenticeships, following three consecutive regional wins and two national highly commended titles in the competition.

The company launched an academy when, in 2006, it was forced to turn down a possible contract due to being unable to fill skilled positions because of a local shortage of highly skilled welders & fabricators.

Steve Hartley, managing director, decided to set up an in-house Engineering & Welding Training Academy to give local students an alternative to going to college or university, and to cover all the ongoing costs including a full-time training instructor.

The £250,000 annual cost of running the academy was considered a price worth paying, and now the company is regularly producing home-grown talent which plays a big part in supporting the company’s ongoing growth, with more than 200 apprentices graduating from the scheme to date.

Kris Mercer, training and development manager at WEC Group, said: "We are absolutely thrilled to have been named as the National Large Apprenticeship Employer of the Year 2020. To have our Training Academy recognised on a national level means the world to us as a group and we are incredibly proud of everything we’ve achieved since we set up our apprenticeship scheme.

"Apprenticeships are at the heart of our continued growth and success and we truly believe that our apprenticeship programme is leading the way to bridge the gap between education and the actual needs of engineering employers locally. Over 200 apprentices have now trained in our Academy and many of them have progressed within the organisation allowing our company to treble in size."

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