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 no formal training protocol to follow 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 have 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.
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:
Currently there is only one formal full course on rubber technology being run in the UK. This is the level 3 BTEC course in rubber technology at South Leicestershire College. That course comprises 3 modules, each consisting of 60 days tuition, taught one day a week for two years. It has a mix of students, some at apprentice level, others graduates who need to have their existing expertise topped up by a specific knowledge of rubber technology. It has been a highly successful course, attracting students from as far afield as Cornwall and Newcastle. Unfortunately enquiries show that there is not sufficient demand for it, in its current format, to continue beyond the current cohort of students who finish this summer. We do however believe it will be possible to adapt the course, so that it is less disruptive to employers and can continue to provide a much needed service.
Our proposal is to set up a course on the following basis:
Some Government funding would be available for those within a formal apprenticeship programme in accordance with the terms and conditions applicable at the time.
We can only go ahead with this course if there is sufficient commitment from employers to avail themselves of it. To enable the course to operate a minimum of six participating students will be required. At present we are inviting firm expressions of interest. If you would be willing to commit in principle to this initiative, subject of course to the further development of the details, please respond by Friday, 3 June 2016 to:
British Rubber and Polyurethane Products Association (BRPPA)
If you have any questions or wish to discuss this proposal further please contact him via the above e-mail address or the BRPPA Office (email@example.com), telephone: 01787 226 995; or please feel free to contact the course tutor, Charanjit Chodha, on firstname.lastname@example.org.
British Rubber and Polyurethane Products Association
Knowledge Transfer Network
Polymer Society of Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining
Polymer Recyclers Ltd
South Leicestershire College
Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre