Virtual welding sparks new skills at Oaklands

07 February 2017

Welding in Welwyn is now on the cards for local students thanks to the opening of a brand new centre for welding at Oaklands College.

The new welding centre is based at the College’s Welwyn Garden City campus and has been made possible through funding from industry supporting charity the Weldability Sif Foundation and the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

 Representatives from both parties and a host of invited guests from the local community came to celebrate the centre’s opening.  The visitors included Rob Case, Director and Trustee of the Weldability Sif Foundation, Hertfordshire LEP’s Skills & Employment manager Norman Jennings and Welwyn Hatfield Mayor Cllr Pat Mabbott, joined by Oaklands Principal and Chief Executive, Zoe Hancock. 

 The brand new dedicated welding training suite houses six welding bays, kitted out with industry-standard equipment plus fully-immersive virtual welding equipment providing a complete 'Virtual Learning Environment', which allows students to train digitally and safely before undertaking the real thing.

The new centre will support the College’s existing courses such as Engineering as well as supporting those working on the newly launched welding Apprenticeships.  The College also plans to offer short introductory welding qualifications for individuals looking to start a career in welding or gain additional skills.

This is part of the ongoing strategy from the Weldability Sif Foundation Charity to proactively encourage the development of new welder training facilities across the UK, with  Hertfordshire LEP funding as part of its investment in skills development across the county.

Director and Trustee of the Weldability Sif Foundation Rob Case said: “Since its inception the Weldability Sif Foundation has been privileged to make grant payments to help over 30 Further Education Colleges and other learning institutions to commence or expand vocational welder training across the UK.

“It is our great pleasure to add the Oaklands College to our growing list of partners sharing our vision to increase the welder population of the UK to meet the requirements of the new industrial strategy.”

Norman Jennings, Hertfordshire LEP’s Skills and Employment Manager, said: “We are delighted to see the new welder training facility up and running and being used by students at the College. A key part of our Strategic Economic Plan is to ensure the current and future workforce has the skills to meet local employers’ needs. We look forward to the centre equipping people with the technical skills required to secure employment in the welding industry for many years to come.”

Principal and Chief Executive of Oaklands College Zoe Hancock said: “We are proud to be able to now provide virtual and hands-on training which sets our students up to match the needs of the industry.

“By partnering with sector-led foundations like Weldability Sif, we can provide state of the art facilities and, in time, skilled professional welders who provide such a vital role to the wider economy.”