Like steel itself, the relationship between TTE Technical and British Steel is most definitely built to last.
TTE, which is now part of Middlesbrough College Group, has been assisting British Steel with its apprenticeship programme for more than 40 years.
While the tasks, technology and requirements have changed considerably – as has British Steel – the core purpose of training and nurturing the skilled steel workers of tomorrow has remained constant and remains very much in demand.
“There is a real need for skilled tradespeople in the steel industry,” explains British Steel departmental planning engineer, Stephen Stonehouse.
“We need people to come through from the grassroots, to carry out apprenticeships and to learn important skills from our experienced workers before they retire.
“TTE plays a crucial role in this process – having been an apprentice there myself many years ago, I know this from experience!”
Stephen works as part of the steering group advising on apprenticeships at British Steel’s plants at Skinningrove and Redcar.
Between them, the two plants take on around 10 apprentices every year, sourced from appropriate NVQ and BTEC courses run at TTE after students have completed their foundational year.
Stephen explains: “One of the reasons we use TTE is that the tutors there know the kind of people who we are looking for – people who have excellent attendance, who want to learn and want to work in industry, particularly in British Steel.
“The tutors have seen their students over the course of a whole year so they get to know them very well and they know their abilities and suitability for the work they’ll be doing at British Steel.
“We also hold an open evening for TTE students so they can learn more about the company and the opportunities here.”
Once apprentices start at British Steel, they spend the following two years working in different departments right across the business, picking up a variety of new skills and going
through different experiences so they have a full picture of the various career paths and a thorough grounding in the skills required.
During this time, their connection to TTE continues as they go on day release to reinforce the skills they learn on the job.
British Steel see the environment in which the apprentices receive their tuition at TTE as vital to their successful progress.
Stephen says: “It’s important for us that when the apprentices go into the TTE training centre that it looks and feels like an industrial space, that it’s like a continuation of their working environment with us.
“This all helps to reinforce what they learn with us and things like clocking on and off, abiding by the rules and regulations, etc.”
The academic work which they do at TTE is assessed alongside their on the job training and apprentices have to undergo a final assessment to ensure they have got their academic grounding in place as well as their practical skills and abilities.
It all ends up in skilled, motivated and capable young workers ready to face a range of different challenges.
“In the five years I have been involved in the programme, all the apprentices have been great,” Stephen enthuses.
“They get a good grounding with a good qualification and a lot of people say that when you’ve had a British Steel apprenticeship, you’ve had a really good apprenticeship and TTE plays a big part in that here.
“Because of the quality of the apprenticeships, we do lose some apprentices after they qualify but a lot do stay because it is a good family environment here, we look out for each other, stick together and do the right thing by each other.”
TTE Technical is the UK’s leading provider of technical training to the manufacturing, engineering, oil & gas and process sectors.
Its training programmes range from foundation to advanced level including delivery of practical skills training, formal technical qualifications and assessment and verification of Vocational Qualifications across operations, maintenance, management and health & safety.