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Success for Cammell Laird apprentice at UK engineering final

posted on October 23, 2012 categories In The Community

A Merseyside apprentice has scooped the top prize in one of the UK’s toughest engineering competitions, The Apprentice Welders’ Competition 2012.

Ben Birch aged 22 from Oxton works for Cammell Laird and is a student at Maritime and Engineering College North West (MECNW).

Ben won the right to compete for the award at The Welding Institute in Cambridge after coming through heats in the North West regional and English national finals.

The UK Apprentice Welder competition involves more than 40 Further Education and Training Colleges across Great Britain. A final nine competitors, three each from England, Scotland and Wales, completed some complex welding tests which saw local apprentice Ben sweep to victory. A second apprentice from MECNW, Jake O’Rourke, who had also made it through to the UK Final, narrowly missed out on being placed.

Ben Birch said: “I’m delighted to have won this award. I want to use it as a springboard to further my career.”

Cammell Laird chief executive John Syvret congratulated Ben on his ‘tremendous achievement’.

“This is an impressive performance from Ben who has represented the company exceptionally well in this national competition,” he said. “His achievement is further great testament to the calibre of teaching and training he is receiving from Cammell Laird and our partners MECNW. Cammell Laird has worked very hard over the last few years with MECNW to implement a new rigorous programme of training for apprentices. There is an urgency to train the next generation of mechanical and structural engineers to fill the skills gap. Youngsters like Ben show the bright, energetic young talent that is now coming through the system and this is exactly what our industry needs. It is tremendous for us and Ben’s tutors to see him perform so well and to see the standards we set being recognised at a national level.”

Mersey Maritime Group chief executive Jim Teasdale, who runs MECNW, said the success underlined the college’s commitment to providing the highest standards of training.

“Ben’s success at the UK Apprentice Welder final is evidence that MECNW can produce the best skills in Britain,” he said. “Our aim is to teach the core skills that industry needs to meet the massive opportunities that exist in the engineering sector. Merseyside’s 28,000 strong maritime sector and engineering workforce is set to double over the next 10 years. Sectors such as offshore wind, nuclear and SuperPort are driving demand for skilled workers. MECNW is now actively seeking to work with more employers to upskill workers of any age to make use of the college’s excellent teaching and facilities.”