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Steve Park Fabrication

Growing our Own to tackle the engineering skills gap

18 August 2023

How do you overcome the engineering skills gap? Universal Wolf strengthens in-house welding and fabrication resource through Grow Our Own programme

At Universal Wolf, we are passionate about supporting our colleagues’ professional development, investing in our people, and helping them to master additional skills.

In 2021 we launched our Grow Our Own program. To date, approximately 20% of our colleagues have benefitted from the program, which allows them to develop new skills and progress – this could be into a supervisor or manager position, or a completely new role in a different department.

Aside from the primary benefit of supporting colleagues to progress their career, Grow Our Own is allowing Universal Wolf to tackle the engineering skills gap head on.

We are very pleased to be taking Grow Our Own to the next level with the recent launch of our six-week Weld School course. Headed up by Melanie Stewart, our Welding & Fabrication Lead, the course will allow colleagues with little to no welding experience to immerse themselves in the world of Mig, Tig and grinding; as they learn a host of welding skills. They will also spend time with our Engineering and Design teams, learning to understand and work to technical drawings.

Currently, we have nine Operators undertaking the first six-week intensive course, from different departments across our business. Once the course is finished, they will progress into trainee and semi-skilled metalworker positions within the wider Welding and Fabrication team, making an immediate impact on the team putting their newly acquired skills to use. This will allow our more experienced Sheet Metal Workers to focus on more complex customer product.

We plan to replicate this formula going forward, to continue to grow our business and address the skills gap and resource challenges which are so prevalent in manufacturing today.

How are they getting on? Well, in the words of one trainee:

“I’m absolutely loving it. I’ve done a little bit of welding in the past, so it’s brilliant to be able to immerse myself in it full time and watch things I’ve made come together. I’m never going back!”.

As well as our internal Weld School, we are delighted to be working in collaboration with Port of Blyth at their new Welding Training Centre. Read more about this initiative and the investment it brings to the area here.

Universal Wolf is currently recruiting for Sheet Metal Workers to join our pack. If you’re looking for a career in Sheet Metal Fabrication, take a look at our Careers page and follow the links to apply.

Read more about our Welding and Fabrication work here.

Hear from Josh Raine, Team Leader in Training, who joined Universal Wolf as a Sheet Metal Worker back in 2019.

Finally, meet some of our pack: