National Apprenticeship Awards 2022

WEC Group ranked Highly Commended at National Apprenticeship Awards 2022

Lancashire based WEC Group have once again been recognised for their outstanding contribution to apprenticeships at the national Apprenticeship Awards in London on Wednesday 30th November. The Fabrication and Welding specialist Company received the Highly Commended Award in the British Army Large Employer of the year 2022 category after winning the award at the North West regional finals in October, beating many larger organisations from the region.

The National Apprenticeship Awards are now in their 19th year and are designed to recognise and reward the achievements of exceptional apprentices, apprenticeship champions and apprenticeship employers throughout the country.

The ceremony was hosted by journalist and TV presenter, Steph McGovern, who started her own career as an apprentice engineer. Steph is a champion for apprenticeships and her own success showcases the different career paths available to those who complete apprenticeships.

Kris Mercer, WEC Engineering Academy Manager at WEC Group said “We are delighted to have been recognised once more for our dedication to apprenticeships within our local community. We are committed to developing the next generation of World Class Engineers, and our new state-of-the-art academy has allowed us to increase our apprenticeship programme to over 30 local individuals in Blackburn with Darwen and around 50 throughout the country.”

WEC training academy in 2006 as a response to their inability to fill skilled engineering positions at the time due to a local skills shortage. Initially taking in 10 apprentices a year, WEC’s apprenticeship scheme has gone from strength to strength and the company’s intake of apprentices has gradually increased to over 50 a year. The scheme has now been expanded to other areas of the business including CNC machining, laser/press brake operations and project engineering to name but a few.

The high quality and standard of training provided at WEC Engineering Academy has been highlighted at the recent WorldSkills Special Edition Competition in Cleveland Ohio. Welding Superstar Apprentice Kieran McShane recently represented the UK at the international competition in October 2022 and is now ranked as one of the top 10 welding apprentices in the world.

The new Engineering Academy opened in September 2022 after a 2 year construction process, and a £3m private investment from WEC Group Managing Director Steve Hartley without any government funding. The state-of-the-art facility includes 33 welding bays, 2 classrooms and the very latest metalworking equipment including a Virtual Reality Welding Simulator from leading welding equipment manufacturer Lincoln Electric. The judges for the National Apprenticeship Awards were impressed with WEC’s ongoing investment in future skills and commitment to creating jobs for the local community. The Company was also rewarded for their recent pledge to create a further 400 apprenticeship opportunities through the new facility.

Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said: “Huge congratulations to all the winners and finalists from this year’s National Apprenticeship Awards. I’m passionate about apprenticeships and the benefits they bring to individuals, businesses and communities up and down the country. These outstanding apprentices and their employers are leading the way, demonstrating just how rewarding apprenticeships can be.”

“Apprenticeships are an essential rung on the ladder of opportunity, offering people of all ages and backgrounds, the chance to earn while they learn the skills they need to build successful careers while delivering the workforce employers need to flourish.”

WEC Group’s current workforce is a testament to their commitment to apprenticeships, with over 50% of their welding workforce in Lancashire are now current or former apprentices trained at their in-house Engineering Academy. The Company are extremely proud to have had their Apprenticeship programme recognised once again and bring the Highly Commended title back to the North West. This award demonstrates their long term commitment to tackle the skills gap within the manufacturing industry in the UK.