By Danny Dean – RWG Training Officer
The 2nd November 2020 saw the induction of six new Modern Engineering apprentices to the RWG in-house Training Centre. With a mix of disciplines between Fitters and Inspectors supplying the next generation of young engineers to our Large & Medium Engine and Advanced Repair Businesses, the new apprentices were welcomed following a rigorous selection process ensuring a suitable fit for RWG’s future operational requirements.
Following the company Health and Safety Induction, the apprentices commenced the theory lessons for basic hand skills training. Young engineers being at their happiest ‘on the tools’ they were keen to get started with the practical phase of bench fitting. As a right-of-passage, it has always been a challenge to even the most talented of us to be handed a piece of raw, low-carbon steel and be asked to produce something meaningful using only a file, a hacksaw, an engineers’ square and a bench vice. Old sweats will no doubt sympathise when they remember the hours spent filing away for all they are worth, in the efforts to achieve the holy grail of accuracy that we endeavour towards learning the old art of hand fabrication, creating an accurate and usable product using only our hands and some basic workshop tools.
And indeed, even in modern times with the advanced methods of engineering available to us today, accuracy of hand skill remains as critical now as it has always been. As they progress through the bench skills phase, the apprentices will work up to the production of a final test piece in the form of creating their own G-clamp tool from raw steel, to a dimensional tolerance of 0.02mm, by hand – that’s about half the thickness of a human hair.
Once the first hurdle of hand skills training is completed, the apprentices will learn to use machine equipment such as the centre lathe, milling machine and surface grinder all in the safety of the RWG bespoke apprentice training workshop. With health & safety at the core of our business, it also forms a highly critical component of apprentice training and as such, the apprentices will also become at one with the regulatory requirements of working safely in an engineering workshop, carrying out their own Risk and PUWER assessments, their work assessed by our own HSE staff to ensure they comply with up-to-date legislation.
The final mechanical maintenance phase of first year training delivers the skills needed to become an engine fitter/inspector on an industrial gas generator. Starting with the basic engine theory in the classroom, they progress onto mechanical tasks on our training workshop SGT-A20 and A35 engines, where they can hone their skills on activities such as strip, inspection and assembly tasks. This critical phase requires them to be adept at activities such as torque tightening of fasteners, wire-locking and O-ring seal and pipe fitting as well as using all engineering documentation to support such work.
The return to apprentice training has brought significant challenges for RWG this year. Ensuring the RWG Training Centre was compliant with government legislation required a careful analysis of all the pinch points and areas within our training unit where virus transmission could potentially occur and develop a sound strategy to control all risks. This has led to a COVID-19 secure learning environment where our next generation of talent can learn in safety. Young people are adaptable and learn quickly, they embrace new skills readily and understand that an approach to safety under the pandemic situation we are in, is treated with exactly the same diligence as with any risk in the workplace.
On completion of the first year of training the team aim to achieve a Performing Engineering Operations SVQ Level 2 and a National Certificate in Mechanical Engineering, all delivered within the RWG Training Department.
RWG’s four-year apprenticeship scheme combines on the job training and assessment within our gas turbine repair and overhaul facilities. Our apprentices work towards an SVQ Level 3 in Aeronautical or Mechanical Engineering with further development towards a Higher National Certificate and degree also available. After successfully completing their fourth year, our apprentices will be awarded a modern apprenticeship certificate and continue their journey within the business on the relevant product line. Many of RWG’s total intake of apprentices remain within the business with several having achieved over 30 years of service.