Growing their own talent

Founded in 1987, Dales Engineering Services Ltd provides fabrication and engineering solutions to both the offshore and onshore energy sectors and currently has close to 100 employees.  

The company has been working with the Modern Apprenticeship scheme for approximately 20 years.

Apprentices are viewed as the future and the vision is for them to progress through the organisation as supervisors and then as managers. Currently, 12% of the total workforce are undertaking an apprenticeship.

Dales Engineering is a previous winner of the Modern Apprenticeship Awards in the Medium Employers category.

Quality and safety are paramount within the industry, both of which
are impressed on the trainees undergoing the four-year apprenticeships across a mixture of engineering disciplines – welding, maintenance
engineering and mechanical engineering.

Kevin Thomson

Kevin Thomson, operations director, said: “Modern Apprenticeships have been and continue to be important for us.

“Within our industry, it has become extremely difficult over recent years to recruit skilled tradesmen due to the higher wages available offshore. The MA programme allows us to ‘grow our own’– developing and nurturing talent in a cost-effective way.  

“All of our apprentices join us either straight from school or from the North East Scotland College. The majority of our apprentices are enrolled in the welding and fabrication apprenticeship pathway – they are all at different stages from first year to fourth-year apprentices.

“We take on an average of three a year depending on how the business is going.

“Despite the downturn within the sector, there remains plenty of work replacing and repairing the existing infrastructure as well as the ever-increasing work we are doing for the international oil and gas sector in Norway, West Africa and the Brazilian markets.

“North-east Scotland is renowned for a very high standard of fabrication workmanship  –  this is in part down to the training available through the college.

“In the first year, the apprentice will be at NESCol for three days a
week to complete their Level 2 Performing Engineering Operations qualification. This provides a good grounding for the skills they need to acquire and develop in the workshop.

“In the second year, this reduces to one day a week to complete their Level 5 National Certificate qualification. Years three and four are all work based and all assessments required for the final SVQ Level 3 qualification are carried out on site.

“Each apprentice is assigned a tradesman to work with over the course of the four-year period. In addition, they have an assessor at the college who regularly sits down with the trainee and manager to discuss progress. We have a site visit from an assessor every month.”

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