A company specialising in the production of valves has given ‘Outstanding’ Nelson and Colne College the seal of approval during National Apprenticeship Week.

Brooksbank Valves, in Cross Hills, Keighley, joined in with the celebrations this week as education providers, employers and students across the country marked the 10th anniversary of National Apprenticeship Week, designed to acknowledge Apprenticeships and traineeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.

Brooksbank, which manufactures high quality isolation valves for the Naval defence and oil, gas and chemical markets, currently has two NCC Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering apprentices working within its 50-strong workforce, and senior members of staff are delighted with their contribution. A third NCC apprentice is currently completing basic training before joining the shop floor in September.

The growing company moved to its current premises two years ago from Skipton as it needed more floorspace to account for rising demand for its products.

Production and Health and Safety Manager, Paul Brooksbank, said he turned to the College for apprentices due to the lack of skilled engineers available and he praised NCC’s outstanding work.

Paul said: “I’m a great believer in Apprenticeships having been there myself, and we reinvented our previously weak Apprenticeship programme three years ago when we took our first Nelson and Colne College apprentice. Paul Day at the College has been outstanding and second to none working together with us on a monthly basis.

Luke-Cole-machine-web“Here at Brooksbank Valves, an Apprenticeship is not easy as we do a bespoke product. We’ve got a 50-50 breakdown between manufacturing for the Ministry of Defence and the oil and gas industry. An apprentice does the basic training at College and we enhance that, tailoring it to our needs to the benefit of us as a business.

“We have a five to 10 year business plan and we need to be able to sustain that. For us, Apprenticeships are the way forward.

“We now have three apprentices, all still relatively new, as it’s a new programme. We’ve got Ben Yeadon who is at College full time for basic training, we have Gareth Smith who is here in his second year doing a milling module and the third year is Luke Cole who is now doing his turning module having already done his milling module. I’ve taken a great deal of satisfaction in seeing the progress of our apprentices.

“I’m proud of the Apprenticeship programme and it is something we need. But further to that, I’m now doing a Leadership and Management qualification too so I’m getting even more out of it which is really refreshing.”

Former West Craven High School student Luke said: “I’ve never really liked sitting at school doing work sat behind a desk so I thought doing a more practical, manual job would be more suited to me.

“I didn’t really like working on paper, I like to work with my hands, work on manual machines and with other CNC machines. The Apprenticeship has helped me build up my experience using all the machines we have here and helped me learn how to program.

“I’ve also had to converse and work with other people, colleagues and peers to get the job done correctly. I can’t just sit there and try and figure it out on my own, you’ve got to talk to each other and try and figure out the best way of doing something, so it has definitely improved my confidence too.”

NCC is first in the country for its Apprenticeship work with 16 to 18-year-olds and is second nationally for its overall Apprenticeship provision. The College is also the best in the area for employer satisfaction.

Highlights of the College’s offering include its unique talent matching service and training analysis, its pre-Apprenticeship support and its tailor made approach to upskilling employees and succession planning.

For more information about Nelson and Colne College’s Apprenticeship offer contact 01282 440319 or visit www.nelson.ac.uk/apprenticeships/