A dozen young people from across South East Northumberland have been taking part in an on-site assessment programme which will lead to three of them being part of a regional employer’s latest intake of apprentices.
Banks Mining has been working in partnership with Northumberland College to help identify local young people that would be interested in and suitable for apprentice positions at its Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines near Cramlington.
After holding an initial open day about the scheme, 12 applicants were selected to undertake an initial two week course at the College which looked at a range of topics relating to the Banks apprenticeship, including health and safety, team building and working on site.
Banks then invited the applicants to visit the Shotton mine to talk about the work that the successful candidates would do, the training they would receive and the equipment that they would be using. Managers at the site also talked to them about their own skills, experience and qualifications, and how they’ve built their career with the family-owned firm.
Each of the candidates will be giving a presentation on what they’ve learned so far about the family-owned firm as part of the final interview process, and Banks is looking to make its apprenticeship appointments within the next few weeks.
The Banks Group and Northumberland College formed a recruitment and training partnership in 2012, when the Durham-headquartered firm appointed four local apprentices.
The bespoke apprenticeships include a comprehensive training programme at the College as well as on-site work, and were created as part of Banks’ continuing commitment to providing direct benefits to the community through its local operations.
The scheme offers qualifications up to NVQ Level Three in disciplines specifically relevant to the plant skills Banks Mining requires, as well as helping the apprentices develop a wider range of skills and knowledge that they will be able to use throughout their working lives.
Banks also makes a range of equipment on site available for the College, including engines, hydraulic systems and excavator buckets, which reflects the equipment that the apprentices would work with on a daily basis, and has also arranged for its present apprentices to undertake additional visits to the premises of its plant suppliers, as well as training modules with the online Caterpillar University.
Around 140 people work at the Shotton site, alongside a further 60 at Brenkley Lane, and the two sites jointly contribute over £35m every year to the regional economy through wages, investment and the local supply chain.
John Welsh, plant assets manager at Banks Mining, says: “As one of Northumberland’s largest private sector employers, we feel we have a responsibility to provide training and development opportunities for local young people who want to make their way in the world, and to help them gain skills that will not only serve them well while they’re working with us, but right through their working lives.
“Bringing our candidates onto the Shotton site gave them a chance to get a close-up look at the sort of work they’d being doing and the environment in which they’d be doing it, and also gave us a chance to see and speak to them too.
“The training that our present apprentices have received has given them the foundations on which to build successful careers, and there’ll be every opportunity for our new recruits to follow them down this path.”
The College training programme covers a range of different topic areas, including a competence-based NVQ which will be assessed in the workplace, and appropriate numeracy, literacy and ICT support will also be provided as required.