Martin Hottass, Siemens’ UK Head of Skills, with Gary Warke, Hull College Group Chief Executive, and
Nick Hill

Siemens awards £1m Hull blade factory contract to Hull College Group

Siemens has awarded a major contract to Hull College Group that involves the development of a “best in class” facility to train workers for the company’s new wind turbine blade factory in Hull.

Worth approximately £1m, the contract will see the conversion of an existing college facility to deliver training to the blade factory workforce over the next two years and support the company, which is establishing a new industry for the UK in the city.

As part of the deal, Hull College Group will invest £400k to upgrade and re-equip the Construction Skills Centre on Hull’s Preston Road estate, which is just two miles from the factory site at Alexandra Dock. The centre will be renamed the Hull College Group Composites Training Centre.

The facility will become one of just two in the UK which specialises in manufacturing skills using composite materials, as Siemens’ blades are a composite of balsa wood, glass fibre and resin.

Siemens selected Hull College Group from four local training providers following a thorough bidding process involving extensive information gathering and evaluation. This involved the training providers visiting Siemens’ blade factory in Aalborg, Denmark, and Aalborg Technical College, which has a long-established training relationship with Siemens.

The training programme from the Aalborg college will be replicated in Hull, with the Hull centre becoming a sister training facility to the Danish operation. All 800 operational staff hired to work in the blade factory will undergo five weeks of training at the Hull College facility, with the first recruits trained from March 2016.

Following a full week of being introduced to Siemens, as well as its culture and values, employees will undergo two weeks of training, delivered by Hull College Group, introducing them to Siemens’ turbine blades and how they are manufactured. This will include production of small-scale versions of the huge 75m blades that will be manufactured in the Hull factory.

An additional two weeks of specialist training, delivered by Siemens staff, will prepare recruits for specific roles. Finally, a further eight weeks of training will ensure staff are ready to work in the factory, which is due to open in September 2016.

Depending on specific job roles, this training will take place in a converted warehouse at Alexandra Dock or, if training in a factory environment is essential, at the Aalborg factory.

Martin Hottass, Siemens’ UK Head of Skills, said: “We are pleased to announce that we have selected our delivery partner for the first major piece of training for our facilities in Hull.

“This is part of a comprehensive training programme, but we will do all the training that we can locally, delivered by local people. This will maximise the benefit to the local community and minimise the disruption to family life for the people we will employ in Hull.

“We will award further training contracts in due course and we anticipate working with local providers once more.”

Mr Hottass said the Siemens’ contract would enable Hull College Group to invest in remodelling and upgrading the existing facility.

He added: “Siemens is the catalyst that will allow Hull College Group to create a best in class facility, where our new recruits will be trained in miniaturised versions of the processes within the Hull factory.

“While our immediate contract covers all our initial workforce training needs up to 2018, we envisage a long-term relationship. We will clearly have training needs for new employees into the future and whenever we make changes to our manufacturing processes.

“The legacy is that the training facilities Hull College Group will establish for Siemens can also be available for other manufacturers in the wind industry that require this type of training or sectors such as caravan manufacturing and boat building, which also use composites.”

Finbarr Dowling, Siemens’ Hull project director, also commented: “This training partnership with Hull College Group is a crucial part of our strategy to develop a highly-skilled local workforce for the world-class facilities we are establishing in Hull.

“We are delighted that we will be working with a highly-respected local training provider to equip our new employees with valuable skills and that this training will be delivered in Hull.”

Gary Warke, Hull College Group chief executive, said: “Siemens has made a strong commitment to hiring locally, buying locally and training locally and this announcement is real evidence of their confidence in the high quality of our bespoke training locally.

“Investing with Hull College Group, enabling the development of an industry-leading facility and committing to put 800 people through training here is a massive demonstration of Siemens’ commitment to the city and local community.”

Siemens is due to begin large-scale recruitment for the blade factory later this month and will soon hold a series of careers events which will enable people to find out all they need to know about the jobs that will be available.

The events, which are being staged in partnership with Hull City Council, East Riding Council and Jobcentre Plus.

These will take place on Tuesday, September 29, at the Freedom Centre, Preston Road, Wednesday, September 30, at Mercure Grange Park Hotel, Willerby, and on Saturday, October 3, at Guildhall.

With partner Associated British Ports (ABP), Siemens is investing £310m in the Hull project to create world-class and world-scale offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing, assembly, logistics and servicing facilities employing 1,000 people.

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