Senedd Member for South Wales West, Sioned Williams MS, pledged her support to proposals for the launch of a highly innovative ‘Skills Academy’ in Port Talbot’s docklands.
The Plaid Cymru Senedd Member visited Port Talbot’s JES Group to listen to their plans for the development of a Fabricating and Welding skills development and apprenticeship programme and enjoyed hearing from current apprentices about their positive experiences with JES.
The proposals intend to use the latest immersive digital technologies to deliver an enterprise class blended training solution that addresses the Fabrication and Welding industry’s skills shortage across South Wales.
‘This is a cutting edge and highly innovative project’, said JES Senior Project Engineer Dafydd Johnson, one of the main drivers behind the project. ‘It looks to the latest digital technologies to provide safe, experiential, hands-on training in a secure, non-hazardous environment by merging the virtual world with the real world’
Augmented reality will be at the centre of the company’s plans. Apprentices, existing welders looking for upskill and professional development and even local school pupils will be able to sample, learn or augment the skills needed to choose or improve a career in the industry.
‘We want’ said Johnson, ‘to future proof the Fabrication and Welding learning process. We believe that Augmented Reality will help do that but we are also investing in modular digital platforms that work alongside first class face-2-face tuition from expert trainers, to make sure that the apprentices who graduate through our programme, are the best they can be and ready for the world of work’.
During her visit to JES, Sioned Williams MS said, ‘My visit today had a twofold purpose. I came to congratulate and thank the JES Group for their outstanding support of local projects, mainly through the transport and logistics assistance they provide to charitable and community organisations which had been brought to my attention. I was however also intrigued to learn more about exciting plans to develop a ‘Skills Academy’ in the heart of Port Talbot’s docklands by a successful local company which is rooted in its community while being a crucial part of the economic future of the wider region’.
‘The progress made and the plans outlined to me, serve only to confirm that this project will address and help overcome the skills shortages being experienced right across Wales in the mechanical engineering industry and give local people key opportunities to develop the skills needed for the future . What impresses me most, is the forward thinking being employed by the company and its project collaborators to future proof this sector’s requirements and satisfy its needs. JES have correctly assessed that the future is a digital one and have embraced this technology’s potential but not lost sight of the practical steps necessary to ensure that a detailed, full and comprehensive learning process is delivered and it's key that the vision of companies like JES are fully supported by local and national Government.”