New £5.5m training centre welcomes first intake of young engineers

An engineering training provider launched in Hull more than 50 years ago has unveiled a new £5.5m training centre which will this week kickstart the engineering careers of more than 60 young learners.

HETA business development executive Mick Wigglesworth (left) with Dean Miles of SSE in the fabrication and welding workshop at the new centre.

The new arrivals at the building at Pioneer Business Park in Stallingborough are among 250 taking up courses at three sites owned and operated by Humberside Engineering and Training Association (HETA).

It adds up to a record intake for the company which impressed employers who were given a sneak preview of the new facility. Experienced engineers and HR professionals from local businesses and national companies praised the location, the facilities and the ongoing employer-first ethos of a business which was set up in 1967 in Alfred Street, off Hessle Road.

Welcoming around 80 business representatives to the centre, Iain Elliott, HETA’s Chief Executive, urged them to continue to work in partnership.

He said: “We all felt it was really important that the people who are offered first sight of the new facility should be the employer base because it’s about you, the learners that you are going to take on and the staff that you want to upskill.”

The new centre is purpose-built and provides facilities for electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and fabrication and welding, with an IT suite, classrooms and meeting rooms.

It sits at the heart of North East Lincolnshire Council’s £42m South Humber Industrial Investment Programme (SHIIP) area, which is being promoted as a major industrial development opportunity.

The strength of HETA’s links with employers is underlined by the fact that around 200 of the young people starting today at Stallingborough, Foxhills in Scunthorpe and the company’s headquarters in Hull have already secured jobs.

Capacity at Stallingborough will increase as more businesses move into the area, and HETA staff took the opportunity of the open day to quiz visitors about current and expected training needs.

Iain said: “This is the culmination of about nine years of thought, discussion and planning – and more than a few sleepless nights. We couldn’t have picked a worse time to build it. We exited Covid, the war started in Ukraine, material costs were soaring and supply of materials and labour were an issue. But we were only two weeks late and we were on budget.”

The total investment is £5.5m, broken down into a build cost of about £4.2m with land purchase, fees and VAT making up the rest. Added to the cost of the new Hull centre, HETA has invested £10m since 2018 in upgrading its property and facilities. The Foxhills centre opened in 2014.

Iain added: “What we have now done with this last piece of the jigsaw is transform HETA’s real estate across the Humber region. We have a set of training centres that provide the best learning and working environment for young people, people coming in to do adult courses and for our own staff. It’s important to give them the best working environment.

“It’s a £5.5m investment in the future of engineering training in North East Lincolnshire and beyond. It’s for those people who are coming out of school and want to take engineering as a career and for employers who need that skilled labour coming through. We know young people are now seeing apprenticeships and engineering and other technical trades as a viable alternative to university.”

Quotes from employers

Tracey Olsson, learning and development co-ordinator at Howdens Joinery Group, said her company employs about 2,000 people including about 650 in Howden.

“All our apprentice engineers are from HETA and most of the engineers we have were trained at HETA.

“We like the discipline at HETA as well as the learning environment. We’ve seen a real difference between the people who came to HETA and the learners who didn’t. It’s the whole package.

“The new centre is absolutely amazing. It’s very similar to the Hull site and it’s fantastic.”

Holly Barker, HR manager at EFAB, said the company’s main focus iswelding and fabrication and construction engineering. It has about 150 direct employees plus sub-contractors and its Immingham base is only a short distance from the new training centre.

We are really impressed with the centre. It’s bigger than we expected and there’s a lot of space.

“There’s a mix of new and old equipment, which is good because people going into industry are not going to be working on new equipment all the time.

“The location is really important. It’s very handy and we have an open invitation to come and visit our apprentices and check on their progress and see if they need any support.”

Dean Miles, assistant maintenance lead with SSE at Keadby Power Station.

“We have a history of working with HETA. We have three apprentices who have done a year already and our latest intake is two more who will be starting here in September.

“It’s a great facility. It has good-size classrooms, a good workshop environment and it’s as close as you are going to get to the real thing. It’s also a good location because there is so much industry along the banks of the Humber and what better resource can a business have than a facility like this right on their doorstep?”

Rachel Eyre, HR business partner training and competence, Prax Group, North Killingholme.

“We put all our electrical and instrumentation apprentices through the HETA programme and we take two every year. We have a really good relationship with HETA and find them very receptive.”

Steve Ellis, electrical instrumentation engineer, Prax Group.

“I came to the new facility during the build and it’s very impressive. It’s a world leading facility and it’s just a few miles from our site so easy for us to drop in. It will be interesting to see what it’s like when it’s full of learners. That’s when it will come alive!”