IMPROVING the skills of Wales's electronics technicians is the aim of a pound;1.1 million training centre established by a consortium of five further education colleges.
Based at Pontypridd College, and used by all consortium members (Barry College, Bridgend College, Glan Hafren College, Cardiff and Gwent Tertiary College), the facility simulates the workplace environment and allows
students to learn new forms of circuit-board assembly.
The centre's technical training programmes have been devised in consultation with employers to meet the needs of the local electronics, semi-conductor, aerospace and automotive industries.
"The further education sector has listened and responded positively to the needs of industry," Paul Halstead, principal of Barry Colleges, says. "By working with the high technology sector we can make sure that Wales has a highly trained and job-ready workforce equipped to take us forwrd in the 21st century."
The consortium is convinced that the training being offered is relevant to a wide range of people. In addition to equipping modern apprentices and electronics students, it will also enable industry to improve the skills of existing workers. A programme of workplace training has been developed at firms such as Atlantic Technology of Crumlin, Gwent.
The training and the Pontypridd facility have been welcomed by the electronics industry, particularly by multinational investors. Bob Fleck, chairman of the Electronics and Training Advisory Group (ETAG) and also training manager at LG Electronics in Newport, said: "ETAG, as part of the Welsh Electronics Forum, is aiming to make the electronics and semi-conductor sectors in Wales as competitive as possible. (We) must create a pipeline of new employees to meet our present and future business needs."
Wales 2000 supplement, 10