FENLANDER: Young people get into welding at free Prince’s Trust course at Fenland education centre

THE sparks flew as Lee Weymouth set to work on a bit of welding in the workshop at the Fenland Engineering Skills Centre (FESC) last week.

Twenty-year-old Lee is one of 11 young people from Cambridgeshire currently taking part in a month-long, free Prince’s Trust Get into Welding course, which gives unemployed young people the skills and training to find a job.

They have been given two weeks’ tuition at the FESC, which opened last year at the Metalcraft factory in Chatteris. On Monday they began two-week work placements at various businesses including Metalcraft, SB Components and Stocks AG in Wisbech and DAF at its sites in Wisbech and King’s Lynn.

The course has been organised by youth charity The Prince’s Trust in partnership with Metalcraft, Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, the Fenland 14-19 Partnership, Jobcentre Plus, the National Apprenticeship Service and SEMTA (the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing technologies).

All the students will get an accredited City and Guilds qualification at the end of the course. More than three in four young people on Prince’s Trust schemes go on into work, education and training.

Councillor Chris Seaton, FDC’s Open for Business portfolio holder, said: “Young people are finding it particularly hard to get jobs in the current economic situation, as the latest unemployment figures show. That makes it all the more important that they are given the chance to gain practical skills and experience like this.

“This project is another example of a great partnership scheme helping to improve life opportunities for people in Fenland.”

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John Tadman, Metalcraft’s production manager, urged all employers to take a broader approach to raising skills levels.

“Local employers need to ‘train for the industry’ so that there will be a pool of skilled workers available in the future,” he said. “It’s important that organisations work together and look at funding or incentives for businesses to do this.”

Carolyn Mason, Prince’s Trust head of programmes for the East of England, said: “Too many young people in Cambridgeshire are struggling to find a job. Our programmes - like the Get into Welding course - give them the confidence and skills to move towards a better future.”

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