Cammell Laird of Birkenhead is the latest shipyard to join ESAB's ShipWeld competition. Eight of the yard's 71 apprentice welders took part in a ShipWeld heat, with the winner being 19-year-old Ben Birch. Birch joined Cammell Laird in November 2009 and is finalising his NVQ 2, which will lead to his level three NVQ. He will complete his apprenticeship in 2012.
Mike Moran, Production Director of Cammell Laird, presented a trophy to the winner. Cheron Robinson, ESAB Group Publicity Manager, and Richard Craig, ESAB's UK Sales Manager, also presented prizes on behalf of ESAB to all entrants. The winner received an Eyetech II reactive light helmet, and runner-up Sam Scott was awarded an OrigoTech Helmet. Both Birch and Scott will go forward to the ShipWeld final in October at BAE Govan.
Scott will be 18 in July this year and joined Cammell Laird in January 2009. He is studying an NVQ level 3 apprenticeship now and will finish his apprenticeship in 2011. Both have expectations to go further in the company.
Despite the high standards achieved in the very close competition, this is the first year Cammell Laird has taken part in ShipWeld.
Danny Hart, the Human Resources Manager at Cammell Laird Shiprepairers & Shipbuilders Limited, states: "We joined ShipWeld because we have a long, proud tradition of developing apprentices and quality respected tradesmen, and we felt we had the capabilities and strength to enter the competition and win it.
"This type of programme allows the apprentices to show what they are capable of. It allows us to nurture talent and earmark the talent of the future. They are the heartbeat of Cammell Laird's future.
"The boiler maker apprentice program accounts for 50 per cent of the apprentice programme, as there is a need to replace our ageing workforce and these skills are required in the yard."
With the average age of welding operatives in the UK around 56-58, there is a need to make the job attractive to a younger potential workforce. ShipWeld puts the spotlight on welding, encouraging new apprentices to sign up for a career in welding, and giving the business some of the kudos it deserves. It is a two-part competition, with the first stage the internal yard competitions; the winner and runner-up of each then goes through to the ShipWeld final.
The national finals of ShipWeld 2010 are to be held in Glasgow and will involve six hours of welding testing.
Sponsoring ShipWeld had been excellent for ESAB. The idea is to add to the friendly rivalry that already exists between UK shipyards and enable the apprentices to gain invaluable experience by taking part in the competition. Competitors use the latest ESAB welding equipment and ESAB consumables for the final. As well as encouraging the development of welding skills, ShipWeld also promotes good health and safety practices.
Cammell Laird's apprenticeship programme has recently been recognised as one of the best in the region. The National Apprenticeship Service made the firm one of the top three large employers in the North West at an awards ceremony at Manchester's Midland Hotel.