Airbus’ 6000-worker wing production plant in North Wales is rising to the challenge of growing global demand for aircraft by investing, with Welsh Government support, in an extensive apprenticeship programme that sees around 300 young people in training at any given time.
Apprenticeship pipeline helps wing factory rise to meet growing global demand
As a centre of world-class engineering, Airbus at Broughton in North Wales understands what it takes to rise to the top in an expanding and highly-competitive aviation market.
At the original home of the iconic Comet and Mosquito aircraft, the company now employs more than 6,000 people in the manufacture of more than 1,000 wings a year to meet growing demand from airlines across the globe.
This includes big contracts from the East, such as the 25 additional A330-300s aircraft ordered by Air Asia in December 2013, and worldwide demand also for the A350 XWB craft which comes on stream in 2014.
To rise to challenges such as these, Airbus not only needs the skills of its highly-experienced production workforce but also a constant flow of highly-motivated young people. These are the talented youngsters who benefit from the firm’s commitment to rigorous apprenticeship training, followed by career-long learning.
To help achieve its ambitious expansion goals over the years, the Broughton operation has been one of the most committed and enthusiastic champions of the Welsh Government’s drive to raise skills in the workplace.
The French-headquartered global giant, which has wholly-owned subsidiaries in the United States, China, Japan and the Middle East, has given a vote of confidence to its workforce in North Wales, where almost 600 people are in ‘early-careers’ training programmes.
We have always promoted the principle of lifelong learning and decided to use the apprenticeship model as one of the main vehicles for this. It shows what can be done when a partnership works
About 300 of these are following Welsh Government-supported apprenticeship frameworks, working across several disciplines in production, manufacturing, engineering design, quality and supply chain logistics. Among its many components, this in-depth training covers hands-on fitting, electrical and fuel systems, flying controls, hydraulics, pneumatics and plant and tooling maintenance.
Gary Griffiths, head of early careers programmes at Airbus, said: “We benefit as a company by bringing in new ideas, fresh approaches, and highly-motivated and enthusiastic young people to meet the demands of the high build programmes we currently enjoy.”
Airbus trains apprentices at various levels, with all programmes lasting three years and combining college or university studies with practical training. Young people can choose between different entry options according to their level of educational achievement and abilities.
Gary explained: “We have always promoted the principle of lifelong learning and decided to use the apprenticeship model as one of the main vehicles for this. We have developed an existing employee apprenticeship for our semi-skilled workforce to equip them with the training and knowledge to become skilled workers. We have also carried out a similar programme where we have taken skilled people and put them through a higher apprenticeship for them to become qualified engineers. It shows what can be done when a partnership works.”