The only apprenticeship scheme of its type in the UK!

In 2006 WEC Group found themselves being unable to fill skilled positions; not due to a lack of applicants, but due to a lack of skilled applicants.

WEC Group Training Academy was founded as a way of bridging the industry's skills gap and as a way of providing individuals in Darwen and the surrounding area with an opportunity to gain welding and fabrication skills. In 2015, we also introduced new CNC machining and technical engineering apprenticeships.

About the Scheme

The 12 month apprenticeship scheme, which is part of a five year apprenticeship with the Group, trains individuals between the ages of 16-24 (although the recent economic downturn has seen the Group take on apprentices of all ages).

Our apprentices have constant access to state-of-the-art equipment five days a week, enabling them to learn and utilise the most modern practices and techniques whilst mixing with our existing staff to get a real taste for the workplace. First year students spend five days full time in the academy. Once they begin their second year, they move on to spend four days on the shop floor and one day at college to provide them with the academic knowledge needed to pursue a successful career in engineering.

Over the first 12 months of the programme, apprentices learn different types of welding, fabrication, sheet metalwork and CNC machining whilst applying their new found skills to engineering projects.

Following their initial 12 months, apprentices are deployed to a specialist division within WEC Group to work on commercial projects such as the fabrication of a 10m bridge, a go-kart which won the award for 'Best Built Kart' at the local karting races and the building of a Spitfire memorial sculpture for Darwen town centre.

Our Training & Development Manager, Kris Mercer, is just one of 50 global CSWIP certified Master Welding Instructors.


All apprentices work towards an NVQ level 3 and a level 3 technical certificate which takes 3 years to achieve. Apprentice welders/fabricators will also achieve BS EN 287 in coded welding in their first year and we currently have a 100% pass rate for this.

We now also offer higher level apprenticeships such as CAD programming at BTEC level 4 as well as level 2 business administration apprenticeships.