The Minister for Economy Vaughan Gething MS joined the team from GE Aerospace Wales to mark the official opening of the new Training Academy at the site in Nantgarw, north of Cardiff.
The Training Academy will be the dedicated to the induction of new recruits as well as provide first-class facilities for the important ongoing training that is required by the more than 1,000 highly skilled aircraft engineers who work on aircraft engines from around the world.
The Academy, which has been converted over several months from an operational space, is home to a purpose-built classroom to embed engineering theory and compliance training, and also a comprehensive practical training area utilising engine modules and components to accelerate the learning of our new starters. An extensive range of real engine components are available for new employees to train for production roles focussed on the overhaul and repair of commercial engines. The Training Academy will also enable the upskilling of existing employees to grow their skillsets for additional skills in new and emerging technologies.
In conjunction with the site’s long-standing relationship with Coleg y Cymoedd, the new facility at site will also be the prime training area for new electrical and mechanical engineering apprentices. University placement students will also spend time at the Academy, ensuring they have the best possible start to their year with GE Aerospace.
Hosted at the opening by Nick Blakeney (Managing Director) and Damon Ballinger (Technical Training Leader), Minister Gething said:
“The aerospace sector plays a major role in the Welsh economy and employs tens of thousands of people across the country so I want to thank GE Aerospace for continuing to support the current workforce to upskill while developing the next generation of aircraft engineers locally.
“We know that young people value work experience opportunities so GE Aerospace’s long-standing relationship with Coleg y Cymoedd and local universities means their students are being provided with skills for now and the future. These hands-on employment and training opportunities allow us to build on our world-class aviation and aerospace sector while driving up growth in communities where no one is left behind.”
Alongside officially opening the Academy, the Minister also had an opportunity to spend time with several current and former apprentices to understand more of what is on offer as part of the programme.
The GE Aerospace Wales Apprenticeship programme is delivered in close partnership with Coleg y Cymoedd. The three-year programme equips apprentices with the academic and technical qualifications they need to thrive as employees. The programme – which opened for applications in October 2023 – is incredibly popular with an average of 400 applications being received. GE Aerospace Wales has an average apprentice retention rate of 95% and an excellent track record in developing apprentices to take on leadership and management roles. Around one third of the current workforce at the Nantgarw site joined the business as an apprentice.
Speaking at the opening, Nick Blakeney said:
“Today is a significant milestone in our training and development journey; a new, dedicated space for the next generation of aircraft engineers to get hands-on and up close with the kind of work they will be doing in a production role across the site.
“We have also listened to the voice of our employees and team leaders at site to ensure that existing employees have a location away from a busy operational environment so they can focus on the completion of their regulatory training.
“I am looking forward to spending time with our trainees and employees at the Academy and continue to lift up them as they continue their career journey with GE Aerospace.”