Employer Story

Staffordshire NDT specialists make long-term commitment to local youth with apprenticeships

Stafford based Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) engineering company, PTS Group has pledged its ongoing commitment to training local people with specialist technical skills.

The company approached Skills Training UK with the desire to embed NDT apprenticeships in their workforce strategy, and benefitted from 95% Apprenticeship government co-funding to drive Apprenticeships forward.

The company offers a full range of NDT inspection disciplines, specialist consulting and welding engineering services across the steel industry in both the UK and Europe.

All long-term and new employees are given the opportunity to upskill through the Level 3 NDT Engineering Technician and Level 6 NDT Degree Apprenticeships, which are delivered through a combination of on-the-job training and academic study. There are currently six employees enrolled on the apprentice scheme, with two having completed the training.

An alternative to traditional routes

Although PTS has been offering internal Apprenticeship programmes for several years, its focus has turned to young people in the local area, who may not have yet chosen a vocation or career.

Steve Baldwin, Technical Director and Co-Owner at PTS, is keen to give school leavers an alternative to traditional routes, through university or college, with the opportunity to carve out a career in NDT and gain a qualification on the scheme.

He said, “The apprenticeship scheme with Skills Training UK ties everything we do together, allowing our employees to study the technical side of engineering whilst they work. Local people can reach their full potential and embark on a positive career within NDT, whatever their background.”

“It’s success that benefits everyone, leads to full time employment for local youth, and future proofs the company. And with the Apprenticeship Levy, it’s a no-brainer.”

Ed Roe, Managing Director and Co-Owner

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NDT Operator Tom Bates has recently completed the Level 3 Engineering Technician Apprenticeship, achieving a distinction and making him the 2nd person to complete the course at PTS.

“Before I started working at PTS and got onto the apprenticeship, I wasn’t confident and felt apprehensive. The course has given me so much more confidence because of the combination of academic learning and on-the-job training, it was a really positive experience and I have the opportunity to gain further levels in the future. I’m a completely different person now.”

Tom Bates, 26, Level 3 Engineering Technician Apprentice

Degree-level qualifications

Before working with Skills Training UK, the company used the PCN (Personnel Certification in Non-Destructive Testing) scheme to train staff and found it was not suited due to being expensive, off-site, classroom based, and without practical application for operators as offered in the apprenticeships.

As a leading provider of Materials Testing Apprenticeships, winning ‘Apprenticeship Programme of the Year’ at the TES FE Awards last year, Skills Training UK’s integrated programmes offer a cost-effective solution to upskilling and recruitment- working closely with the employer, specialist training provider and the apprentice.

Adam Bates took the chance to gain new skills after working at PTS for more than 10 years with a Level 6 Engineering Degree- the only BSc in the country for Non-Destructive Testing.

“Being able to complete a degree-level qualification that’s recognised internationally, whilst continuing to work and still balance family life is so rare. It’s given me a solid background knowledge of all areas of Non-Destructive Testing to support my day-to-day role as Quality and Health & Safety Manager, plus advanced techniques.”

Adam Bates, 35, Level 6 Engineering Degree

The NDT Level 2 and 3 Apprenticeships cover product technology, engineering, inspection techniques and health and safety. This is delivered by expert trainers through a combination of project and portfolio showcases and an observational interview. The Level 6 degree-equivalent Apprenticeship builds further on this knowledge base with advanced NDT techniques including corrosion analysis, thermographic testing and vibration analysis.

Steve Baldwin added, “The Skills Training UK Apprenticeship programme is now so embedded in our company ethos, those that have completed the course can recommend and support others- whether they’re fresh out of school or looking to upskill. It takes away the fear factor of earning an NDT qualification and what’s involved.”

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