A four-year apprenticeship scheme for trainee technicians at The University of Nottingham is first in the UK to be accredited by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.
On completion, trainees are qualified to apply for Engineering Technician (EngTech) registration, supporting a government initiative to boost the number of professional engineering technicians nationally to 100,000 by 2020.
Recognising it faced its own shortfall in skilled technicians, due to fewer younger staff entering the vocation, the Faculty of Engineering at the University set up the trainee technician scheme in 2008.
From an initial intake of two, the scheme has grown considerably in eight years, with 17 young graduates to date, more than 100 applications annually and a new cohort which started in September 2015. To date, 100 per cent of apprentices to complete the programme have been employed by the University as skilled technicians.
What does a technician do?
Alongside the day-to-day management of workshops, laboratories and other essential duties, technicians also contribute to cutting-edge research and teach practical skills to students across a number of degree programmes.
Professor Andy Long, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Engineering said: “Technicians play a crucial hands-on role in higher education, supporting teaching and research activities.
“Our program provides structured, on-the-job training, covering the key skills, practical experience and academic qualifications needed to create future technicians within the Faculty.
“We’re proud to be investing in technical talent of the future and delighted that our trainee technician programme is the first to be accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.”
All trainee technicians start with intensive practical tuition across a range of subjects from electronic, mechanical, electro-mechanical, model-making, fabrication and materials engineering.
Each cohort learns directly from experienced, specialist technical staff on a one-to-one basis over the four-year period.
Trainees also complete a level 3 NVQ qualification at Central College in Nottingham for the first two years on day release, followed by a two-year level 4 HNC course – all relevant to their skill sets.
As another mark of excellence for the apprenticeship, University of Nottingham technicians have repeatedly competed at the biennial l WorldSkills Competition, which is the biggest vocational education and skills excellence event held internationally and airs in many countries on television.
Competitors demonstrate their technical abilities to execute specific tasks they would complete at work. Ben Shaw is a skilled mechanical engineering technician at Nottingham who represented the UK in the 2013 WorldSkills event in Germany and returned to judge the event in Brazil this year.
Two 2011 trainees, Hannah Beska and Alex Jackson-Crisp, graduated on 30 September 2015, in a ceremony officiated by Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Andy Long and Kelly Vere, Technical Staff Development Officer, and watched by families and engineering staff.
Being a mechanical engineer is what graduate trainee technician, Alexander, 21, from Ilkeston, has wanted to do since he took the subject at school. “Being able to complete my apprenticeship at the University I’ve certainly gained skills I would not have had the opportunity to elsewhere. It’s been a steep learning curve but has been an incredibly rewarding experience and I am looking forward to my future career as a professional engineer.”
Paul Tabern, Senior Business Development Executive, from IMechE, who presented the course accreditation, said he was “delighted to accredit the programme”.
“With a membership of over 130,000 globally, trainee technicians at Nottingham will gain access to a huge array of events, lectures, seminars and networking opportunities as well as giving them access to a streamlined route to professional status as an Engineering Technician (EngTech),” Paul said.
Watch our film about our talented technical staff, featuring Vice Chancellor Sir David Greenaway, to find out more about their skills and roles here at Nottingham.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Research Project of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2014. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for three years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.
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