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WHEN Nigel Taylor realised there was a lack of trained engineers in the Midlands, he decided to do something about it.

So in February this year Nigel set up Benchmarks in Birmingham to help train and re-train wannabe engineers.

'I've been in the engineering business for a long time,' says Nigel. 'I'd recently conducted some research which exposed a skills shortage for trained engineers and it gave me the idea for Benchmarks.

'With my own money and help from several outside agencies, we created the centre to help engineers into work and to train them to a high quality.

'At the moment, we're taking both people who are learning from scratch and people who want to re-train - but we've also started to do some consultancy work for firms to help them train their existing staff.'

Benchmarks is part of the MetForm Skills Centre and is located on Tyburn Road, Erdington.

It has a number of offices and teaching rooms but the main focus of its work is with Benchmarks - the centre's major workshop which was opened by Brummie historian Carl Chinn.

Six new trainees a week now enter the workshop which is fully equipped with pounds 1.5 million worth of equipment, including coal-forging and press machines and professional drilling tools.

That's on top of the 1,700 people who have benefited from facilities at the MetForm Skills Centre where they study for NVQs.

Nigel says he has now been approached by a university interested in using the Benchmarks premises to teach degree modules.

'We provide a customised approach to training that is not produced at any other centres in this country,' he explains.

'We already have links with Dudley and South Birmingham colleges but we envisage there will be more partnerships in the future.'

The MetForm Skills Centre provides most of its courses free of charge and has recently entered into a partnership with the National Training Organisation.

Together, they hope to take on 30 people in September under the modern apprenticeship scheme.

Nigel believes that the MetForm Skills Centre will make a real difference to engineering.

He said: 'We can sometimes make the difference between a profitable business and one that is not profitable.

'Quite often people can be in jobs to which they are not suited or for which they are not fully trained,' he says.

'We train staff to a high level and ensure that they are very efficient and, through that, save the company money.'

Anyone interested in training opportunities at the MetForm Skills Centre should contact Peter Summers on 0121 250 2291.


NEW SKILLS... trainee Craig Langston sets up a machine and (inset) Nigel Taylor of Benchmarks
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Apr 1, 2001
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