Twelve Cumbrians, including those who have been long-term unemployed, are set to kick-start their careers in the engineering construction industry.

Delivered by Lakes College, the Work Ready Programme brings together local employers, the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in a collaborative partnership.

The trainees, all aged 19 and over, will embark on a 16-week programme.

The programme includes three weeks of work placement, covering core engineering trades with 12 guaranteed job roles at the end.

Learners will undergo vocational training in fabrication and welding processes, maintenance techniques, and hand fitting skills.

On completion, they will be employed by Jacobs Field Services and Shepley, to then work on the Sellafield site for its Programme and Project Partners (PPP) contract.

Additional support has been provided by Inspira, a career management and personal development organisation operating in the North West.

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These programmes are aimed at tackling the skills gap in the engineering construction industry and catering to the expected rise in demand for workers by a predicted 28 per cent by 2028, according to ECITB’s Labour Forecasting Tool.

ECITB chief executive, Andrew Hockey, said: "The pilot Work Ready programme at Pembrokeshire College in 2023 was a big success with all learners who completed the programme gaining employment.

"It shows the real benefits of adopting a collaborative approach.

"I would like to wish all learners the best of luck on their journey and future careers."

The Work Ready programmes’ candidates are referred from DWP’s Jobcentres.

As well as being introduced to skills related to health and safety, rigging, and mechanical joint integrity, learners also gain a Level 2 Diploma in Performing Engineering Operations.

Wayne Jackson, operations director at Jacobs Field Solutions, said: "Given the current skills shortage in the nuclear industry, the Work Ready programme has offered Jacobs the opportunity to work alongside the ECITB to introduce a local opportunity to the long-term unemployed."

Mike Brown, director of operations at Shepley Group, said: "Working closely with the ECITB, the Work Ready programme has enabled the Shepley group to offer opportunities of employment to some long-term unemployed people of West Cumbria.

“It provides essential training and preparation for working on the Sellafield site, which will get individuals back onto the employment ladder and learn new skills."

Iain Glendinning, vice principal at Lakes College, emphasised the potential impact of the initiative:

He said: "This programme and partnership represents a fantastic opportunity for individuals to develop the skills needed to gain meaningful, long-term employment."