WEC Group winning the Commitment to Skills Award at the Red Rose Awards 2023, with the Red Rose Awards logo on the right.

WEC Group Scoops Another Major Training Award at the Red Rose Awards 2023

It was a successful evening for WEC Group at the annual Red Rose Awards on Thursday 9th March at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, as the company added a significant award to their growing collection.

The Darwen-headquartered Engineering & Fabrication specialist brought home the trophy for the Commitment to Skills category on the back of their ongoing commitment to training the next generation of British engineers and the successful launch of their newly built Engineering & Welding Academy in Blackburn.

WEC were recognised on the night for their ongoing commitment to bridging the engineering skills gap as well as their outstanding pledge to create a further 400 apprenticeship positions within the next 10 years.

The Red Rose Awards are Lancashire’s largest business award, where Lancashire business, commerce and industry are celebrated. The awards evening provides a platform to promote success, and encourage inter-trading in the county, with around 1,100 local business leaders attending the event.

Managing Director of WEC Group, Steve Hartley, said “WEC Group couldn’t be prouder of winning this award, which is a testament to all the hard work and dedication we’ve put into building our new academy over the past two years. Investing in skills and the development of our people is what’s making us such a successful company and our apprentices are the future of Lancashire’s manufacturing industry as a whole.”

Skills development and apprenticeships have been at the heart of WEC Group’s growth strategy since 2006 when the company ended up being unable to grow any further due to a serious local shortage of skilled welders and fabricators. Mr Hartley made the brave decision at the time to open his own Welding & Engineering Training Academy with a full time in-house teacher and an initial intake of 6 apprentices.

Over 200 students have since come through the doors of the WEC Academy, enabling the business to treble their workforce in the meantime. On the back of this success, plans were drawn in 2019 to start the build of a new state-of-the-art 25,000ft² Training Academy in Blackburn to enable the company to double their annual intake of apprentices. The build was funded through a £3 million private investment from Steve Hartley and WEC apprentices fabricated all the steelwork for their new academy, with the build carrying forward throughout the pandemic and successive lockdowns.

The new school officially opened its doors in September 2022 and it has since been hailed by many industry professionals as the best Welding Academy is the country.

The judges for the Red Rose Award’s “Commitment to Skills’ category, stated: “WEC Group demonstrated real pride in individuals, seeing potential in all staff. They have a clear strategy to recruit and retain which has created exponential growth. The investment in their own training academy will sustain this growth and provides opportunities for other businesses to access this state-of-the-art facility”.

Investment in future skills remains at the centre of WEC’s ongoing growth strategy and the company have recently unveiled their vision for the next 10 years and pledged to train a further 400 apprentices through their new academy, offering more opportunities to local individuals who are looking to start a successful careers within engineering. Plans have also been drawn to upskill over 200 local job seekers or unskilled workers and introduce 1000 additional students to the world of engineering through hosting regular school visits and open evenings.

Mr Hartley added, “We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who works exceptionally hard to make WEC Group’s training programme a success. We will continue to invest in skills for the benefit of the local community, and provide opportunities for more people wishing to begin a successful career in engineering”.

WEC Group are currently recruiting apprentices for their September 2023 intake, with a variety of apprenticeship opportunities in all areas of the business, available across the various divisions of the company.

For more information about WEC Group’s available apprenticeships or to apply, visit the Current Vacancies page.

For more information about the Red Rose Awards, please visit their website.