AN ENGINEERING centre which is helping to plug a global skills gap has officially opened in the North-East.

Nordic Engineering Training and Testing Centre began operating from Stockton last December, quickly building up an impressive client base and supporting workers from countries, including Russia, Brazil, Spain, Portugal and Poland.

It was officially opened on Tuesday by the Mayor of Stockton, Councillor Maurice Perry, who cut a ribbon at the company’s high-tech facilities in Church Road.

Nordic’s managing director Peter Robinson said: “This is really just the beginning. It is our aim to be the best engineering training and testing facility in the UK.”

Mr Robinson added: “We know there is a skills gap when it comes to engineering. The jobs are out there but there is a critical lack of skilled workers. Our objective is to meet that very clear industry demand.”

Nordic already has an established reputation as one of the country’s leading graffiti-removal experts, managing contracts with local authorities in some of Britain’s major cities, including London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Bristol.

However, the company is now expanding into engineering, with Mr Robinson saying: “This is where we see our main focus in the future because there is such a demand for trained engineers in all kinds of disciplines.”

Nordic has invested in four trainers with 120 years’ experience between them: Paul Mobberley, Dave Swan, Kenny Williams, and Ian Henderson-Thynne.

As well as overseeing world-class training, they have also been behind the design of the company’s training and testing facilities.

“The welding bays are designed and built by welders, for welders,” said Kenny Williams, whose wealth of experience includes working on nuclear submarine propulsion systems for Foster Wheeler at Hartlepool and maintaining boilers at the UK’s major power plants.

One recent innovation has been the delivery of a highly specialist course in Mechanical Joint Integrity. Accredited by the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board, it involves the secure bolting of joints on pipes that carry substances which may be radioactive or toxic.

The Mayor said: “It is brilliant to have a company like Nordic expanding in Stockton and delivering top notch training, not just to workers in this country but from around the world. We are delighted it’s happening here.”