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British Rubber & Polyurethane Products Association

New initiative on rubber industry training in the UK

For many years now the rubber manufacturing industry in the UK has suffered from the poor availability of technical courses which can be used for the career development of personnel coming into the industry. The demise of courses specialising in rubber technology at technical colleges and polytechnics such as Burton and Trowbridge, combined with a reduction in the size of the rubber industry, has resulted in little formal training apart from short courses. The reasons why this should have happened are numerous, but it is clear that at the regional level any formal course run annually will struggle to achieve the requirements of the new intake. Clearly our industry no longer has the critical mass to support it. On the other hand it is also clear that across the country there is still a strong need within the industry for training to a common standard.

In an attempt to reverse this position as a matter of urgency, a group of like-minded industrialists, representative organisations and academics in 2014 formed a working party, Elastomer Training Action Group (ELTAG), with the intention of generating a range of courses with content that is to an approved quality and accreditation. The Director of BRPPA coordinates the activities of ELTAG.

Ultimately there is a need to re-create a coherent learning pathway in rubber technology that will stretch from NVQ level 2 through to first degree and beyond. But this will take time and in the first place we need to concentrate our resources on the level at which there is the greatest need, building on what we already have.  At the same time we have to recognise two essential realities:

  • The industry is highly fragmented across the country and there is not the critical mass of demand to support courses simply serving needs at a local level.
  • The competitive pressures on successful companies, usually SMEs, are such that they cannot generally afford to release staff for training and education on a regular day release basis.

In May 2016 ELTAG invited companies in the rubber manufacturing industry to register their interest in sending employees on a course in rubber technology at BTEC level 3 based on a course already run out of South Leicestershire College in 2014-2016.  There was a strong response to this invitation and as a result the following arrangements are being set up:

  • The course – at BTEC level 3, units 45, 39 and 50 – is now confirmed and will be run out of South Leicestershire College, starting in September 2016; it will be run over one year;
  • 18 students, from 11 different companies, are confirmed for the course;
  • The course will be run with two parallel groups, split according to the company business of the students, so that there is the right balance and good communication and knowledge between them;
  • The course plan will be: parallel sessions of 8-10 students – for each group 6 weeks altogether. Each session will take place from Monday noon to Friday noon over 6 months from September 2016 to May 2017.  Total hours for each group will be 180 hrs;
  • The course fee will be £2000;
  • No practicals are involved at the College, but an option is for them to be run at the place of work. The practical choice will be set by the individual employer or by the tutor and the tutor will monitor the practicals.

Although all places have now been booked for 2016/2017, we are setting up a reserve list in case of possible drop-outs. If you wish any of your staff to be placed on this list please let BRPPA know on: jdorken@brppa.co.uk

ELTAG will be continuing to work on improving training provision in the industry, which will become ever more important against the background of the new apprenticeship levy system and the need to address the impact of the UK’s prospective exit from the EU. If you wish to register an expression of interest in placing any of your staff  on a course along the lines of the above  for the year 2017/2018  please let BRPPA know.

ELTAG would also welcome wider participation in its work. If you are interested also please let BRPPA  know. If you have any queries or suggestions please do get in touch.

ELTAG Document can be downloaded here.