New Shropshire academy steels itself to tackle skills shortage

Daniel Leech, Managing Director of TDS Midlands and The TDS Academy

A local firm’s frustration at encountering a shortage of skilled staff has led it to devise its own novel solution – the creation of a new academy to help train the next generation of engineers and designers.

TDS Midlands, a Telford-based Computer Aided Design (CAD) specialist for the steel industry, has launched a dedicated new training programme which aims to give youngsters across Shropshire the opportunity to gain practical, on the job training and vital vocational qualifications, whilst also enabling employers from local construction and engineering firms to develop the skills and techniques of their team.

Based at the state-of-the art new Telford Enterprise Hub in Hadley Park, The TDS Academy will offer three-year Apprenticeship training programmes where participants will be able to learn the vital CAD skills and techniques that the building and engineering industries are desperately in need of.

“Engineering and construction has been hit by a lack of investment over a number of years now, and this scenario has only been exacerbated by the economic downturn,” Daniel Leech, Managing Director of The TDS Academy, explained. “Consequently, the sector in general has suffered a real issue with skills shortages and having enough employees equipped with the necessary training and qualifications to ensure a successful future.

“Youngsters that successfully complete our three-year training programme, which is studied via day release, will obtain an ECITB Level 3 Diploma in Engineering Construction Design and Drafting, along with a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Operations and Maintenance Engineering – the equivalent of two A Levels. But more importantly than achieving such credentials, they will also get to experience real-life projects and help solve real-life problems. Over the past couple of years, TDS Midlands has been involved in a number of high-profile projects, including work on the Houses of Parliament, the world-famous ‘Gherkin’ skyscraper in the City of London, sports stadia such as Newcastle United FC, and the Bluewater Shopping Centre, and it’s initiatives similar to these that the Apprentices will be able to play a part in.”

The TDS Academy is already in advanced negotiations with a number of engineering and construction firms in the region about enrolling their employees onto the programme, while it has also reached an agreement with County Training, part of Shropshire Council, with the first group of Apprentices set to start their studies later this autumn.

“The feedback we’ve received from both businesses and youngsters aiming to learn their trade has been phenomenal. We’d urge any other employers or individuals interested in finding out more about the training programme to get in touch by emailing,” Daniel Leech concluded.

Last May, the fifth annual survey by industry body the Chartered Institute of Building discovered that 85% of construction professionals believed “there may not be enough skilled construction personnel available when the industry needs them”, while 77% claimed a “lack of training and investment has already led to a skills shortage”.


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