As the leading engineering training provider in the Yorkshire and Humber region, HETA provides specialist training for young people looking to join the engineering industry, whilst also delivering a variety of industry standard courses designed to transform workforces.
Those courses are delivered in partnership with EAL, helping to ensure a ready-made pipeline of talent is available to employers looking to bolster their workforce.
Head of Sales and Marketing at HETA, David Morgan, is perfectly placed to judge the impact switching to EAL courses has had.
He said: “We had previously used a competitor of EAL but it wasn't as seamless, it wasn't as straightforward and it wasn't as smooth as the experience we are now enjoying. EAL played a big role in making switching over a simple process for us as a business, rather than spending days and days trying to try to get aligned to something that somebody else has created.”
HETA was founded in 1967, with the mantra of ‘created by employers, for employers’. It set about filling a gap locally in providing employers with the new skills they needed to progress.
HETA works across three sites, in Hull, Grimsby and Scunthorpe, and is currently building a new £6m training centre in Grimsby that will open for learners in September 2023, offering a range of apprenticeships in maintenance engineering, mechanical, electrical and multi skilled engineering, plus fabrication and welding.
Every year, HETA recruits about 210 young people across 16 apprenticeship standards. Entry criteria is strict and competition for places is strong, with grade fives in maths, English and science a pre-requisite, online aptitude tests and a formal interview process. Last year there were 857 applicants for 190 places – so aspiring apprentices have a one in four chance of getting into what is known as the ‘Vocational Grammar School’.
David added: “We are working throughout the year to find opportunities for young people. We place 200 people a year into engineering jobs, highly-skilled, well-paid career opportunities with big name companies such as Wren Kitchens, Howdens, Smith and Nephew and Saint-Gobain Glass.”
Meanwhile, HETA provides commercial training for existing engineers who require some form of CPD or upskilling. This is delivered to around 1,500 engineers a year across the three sites.
Through a relationship with Sheffield Hallam University, HETA also delivers a Higher National Certificate at Level 4 and a Higher National Diploma at Level 5. Last year's cohort finished with a 98% pass rate at Level 3, 88% pass rate at Level 4 HNC and a 100% pass rate at HND Level 5. Almost two thirds (64%) of the 100% will then go on to Sheffield Hallam to top up to full degree.
David added: “With these courses being available, you can almost jump off the academic ladder if you like at 16 but get back on it and get to the same destination, almost at the same time. All those who topped up at Sheffield Hallam last year came out with either a first class or a 2.1 degree.
“It’s becoming a much more appealing sector. Parents see it as a real career option for life that pays well and opens up the whole world. A good welder can travel the world and earn an awful lot of money. We have broken that stereotypical image that grammar school kids go to university and comprehensive kids go to an apprenticeship. Times have changed and we are seeing more women come into the sector as well, which can only be a positive.
“One of the things I'm really proud of is that we bring kids in at Level 2 and they potentially leave us at Level 5. That gives comfort to parents and teachers that actually you're not giving up on that dream of academia at 16, you're just doing it by a slightly different journey and actually not incurring any debt on the way, earning while you're learning.”
The manufacturing and engineering sector is changing rapidly, becoming a far more highly skilled working environment. It is expected that 54% of jobs in this sector will be at level four and above by 2024 – heightening the importance of receiving a certificate from a third-party OFQUAL-regulated awarding organisation.
With HETA’s switch to EAL qualifications, they have been able to reach out to a bigger market with a product that is mapped to the precise standard required.
David added: “We work with big, big companies who want that reassurance that their investment in training is being spent with a recognised reputable organisation who've exposed themselves actually to a third-party validation process.
“The last piece of research I saw from UK CES, said employers spend £45billion a year on training and about 8% of that is ever intended to lead to a nationally recognised qualification. What employers want is competence. They want something that has an impact on their bottom line.
“My message to providers, to colleges and to employers is continue to deliver the training you need for your business, but third-party validation gives everybody the confidence that the content of that training has been scrutinised by a specialist in their field. It brings an extra layer of validity to the programme and the costs are inconsequential compared to the potential return on investment.”