BUSINESS INSIGHT: Huntingdon firm TRB Lightweight Structures on how it’s addressing shortage of engineers

TRB Lightweight Structures, Huntingdon, address a shortage of engineers with its apprenticeship sche

TRB Lightweight Structures, Huntingdon, address a shortage of engineers with its apprenticeship scheme, (l-r) HR Manager Emma Barton, Apprentices Chris Cooper, and Gatis Dudelis, - Credit: Archant

As concerns over the shortage of engineers in the UK becomes more documented, TRB Lightweight Structures managing director JULIE QUIRKE gives an insight into the effect on the rail industry and how the Huntingdon-based manufacturer is helping tackle the issue.

Engineering in the UK has a rich and prestigious history. From Thomas Savery who invented the first crude steam engine to Charles Babbage who is best remembered for originating the concept of a programmable computer, Britain has been at the forefront of technological and industrial engineering.

Since the idea of rail travel first captured our imagination in the 19th century, the UK has produced a number of revered engineers.

Savery, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and George Stephenson are just a few world-class engineers who have directly influenced the rail industry, but now it seems the UK is in danger of falling short when it comes to producing engineers fit for the future of rail.

With new major projects such as HS2 and Crossrail set to require the input of hundreds of trained and qualified engineers, the need to address this situation is obvious.

Elite institutions, such as those proposed by the HS2 project, is one way in which the UK can plug this skills gap, creating up to 2,000 new apprenticeships in the process.

The college, which aims to be launched by 2017, would focus specifically on rail construction, environmental skills and maintenance and would provide apprenticeships to respond to the needs of these high-profile rail engineering projects.

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We have taken the matter into our own hands and have recently opened new and state-of-the-art facilities as part of an ongoing investment programme, have already enrolled two employees in a mechanical manufacturing and engineering apprenticeship aimed at developing the company’s talent.

As a company at the forefront of modern manufacturing, we focus intently on the development of our employees. Ensuring we meet the needs of both the business and the individual we take great pride in our ability to support our employees through dedicated learning solutions.

The apprenticeship scheme, which is facilitated by Peterborough Regional College, has been running for two years and TRB is set to produce its first two junior engineers by September. Once this stage has been passed they will progress to take the Higher National Certificate in Engineering.

Working with experienced engineers, the apprentices have already taken on roles in key projects ranging from detrainment doors for London Underground’s sub-surface fleet through to bespoke structural work for high-profile projects such as the energy efficient London Blackfriars Station

Supporting the growth of our staff is an essential component of the TRB philosophy. Creating an environment that allows for the progress of individual ambition is key to helping the company achieve its growth potential. We encourage the development of our employees and support them by providing this gateway to career progression.

With £25 billion being invested in rail over the next seven years, it’s certainly an exciting time to be involved in the industry and TRB’s commitment to producing future qualified engineers is an indication of our desire to drive rail progress.

As these exciting and progressive new projects start to take shape, it’s clear that rail is entering a new era of exciting design, engineering and manufacture and the likes of Savery, Brunel and Abel can rest peacefully knowing that we are doing our best to preserve the heritage of engineering in rail.