WEC launches apprenticeship drive

By Ged Henderson

11 May 2021

Engineering and fabrication specialist WEC Group has announced a major apprenticeship recruitment drive.

It will see the Lancashire-headquartered company more than double its annual intake in 2021 with vacancies for 53 new apprentices for its September intake.

WEC’s new £3m state-of-the-art engineering and welding academy is currently under construction at Walker Park industrial estate in Blackburn, next to its specialist machining division.

The announcement comes on the back of a very strong business performance for the group in Q1 of 2021, with manufacturing output currently much higher than pre-Covid levels and the company recording a record ever month in March 2021.

As well as its Lancashire operation the business has division in Knowsley, Rotherham, Coventry, and Sherburn-In-Elmet.

WEC is already an established apprenticeship provider and was awarded the Large Employer of the Year title at the National Apprenticeships awards in 2020.

WEC Group’s managing director and founder Steve Hartley said: “Apprentices are the lifeblood of any forward-thinking businesses.

“Since starting our apprenticeship scheme in 2006, WEC Group has grown from 200 employees to over 900, creating a loyal workforce by harnessing fresh talent and skills.

“Our apprenticeship scheme has been extremely successful over the years, and this is why we’ve decided to forge ahead with our plans to invest around £3m to build a brand-new Training Academy in Blackburn, despite the challenging trading condition over the past year.

“This will give us the means to create a lot more apprenticeship positions every year and allow us to continue growing.”

Building work on the new academy started in August 2020 and current WEC apprentices fabricated the structural steel work for the building which will be opening its doors in September.

With two classrooms, 33 welding bays, and the very latest metalworking equipment, the new facilities will also enable WEC Group to partner with local schools, colleges and companies.

Steve added: The new academy will enable us to tackle the worrying skills gap which is crippling many engineering companies locally. Apprentices are the most important asset to our business and they remain at the heart of our long-term strategy.”

The WEC Training Academy originally opened its doors at the group’s headquarters in Darwen in 2006.

More than 50 per cent of WEC Group’s welding workforce in Darwen are current or former apprentices trained in the academy, and the increase in skills levels across the business has allowed the company to win many large international contracts which were previously beyond their reach.

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