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NPL Training offers crucial made-to-measure career development

Keith Bevan, Head of Manufacturing and Training, reveals how NPL provides training and upskilling opportunities

09 Sep 2019 14:05 PM

NPL is making lifelong learning an indispensable part of the UK’s industrial and manufacturing sectors

The need for training and upskilling programmes within the UK’s manufacturing sector is both well understood and well known. At the start of this year, a British Chambers of Commerce survey indicated that the UK’s manufacturers are facing the biggest skilled labour shortage for almost 30 years, leading to stagnating levels of growth and business confidence.

More recently, research from skills body City & Guilds Group found that workers in the UK’s manufacturing sector are missing out on crucial opportunities to upskill. It revealed that just over 30% of people working in the manufacturing industry learned no new workplace skills last year, and more than half felt that they did not get enough help and support to upskill from their employer.

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is making strenuous efforts to provide a wide range of practical training courses designed to meet the needs of industry. With a mixture of topics ranging from dimensional measurement and uncertainty, through to measurement of mass, temperature, humidity and instrument calibration, NPL uses its close working relationship with the UK’s manufacturing sector to provide the training that industry needs.

NPL’s training courses and qualifications are pitched at different technical skills levels, from beginner through to expert, and sit within a unique training framework which enables progression and recognition.

Setting the standard

As the UK’s National Measurement Institute (NMI), NPL sets the standards in metrology, the science of measurement. This makes it very well positioned to deliver training covering standards, measurement uncertainty, calibration and traceability. These are key to ensuring that measurements are comparable between laboratories and organisations, and that the data created meet the accreditation or specified standards required in industry.

Apprenticeships and addressing the skills pipeline

The Level 3 Metrology Technician Standard is the first nationally recognised standard in metrology. It enables apprenticeship levy-paying companies in England to develop the skills that will complement their business, support succession planning and develop workplace knowledge and behaviours.

The curriculum of the apprentice training is underpinned by NPL’s base as a world-leading centre of excellence that provides cutting-edge measurement science, engineering and technology. It is a truly unique way to ensure that industry has skilled technicians for measurement, inspection, instrument calibration and manufacturing support. After all, ‘If you can’t measure something, you can’t improve it,’ as business guru Peter Drucker once brilliantly observed.

Courses tailored to your needs

NPL’s training courses have a high proportion of practical skills development, combined with classroom sessions or e-learning. Classroom sessions are typically carried out in groups of less than 12 individuals, with state-of-the-art technical equipment.

Many courses sit within Ofqual’s (Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) regulated qualifications framework. All are part of NPL’s own training framework, which provides skills progression and recognition from entry through to expert level. There are bespoke measurement and calibration training programmes to fill specific skills gaps and address organisational challenges in a cost-effective way. Elements from existing NPL courses can be combined as desired, or NPL can design a customised curriculum to meet specific needs. Learning can be classroom-based, online, or a mixture of both - essentially a blended solution.

A number of industry-leading training providers deliver the training, which can be done at NPL’s laboratories in Teddington or at a customer’s premises.

Working closely together

NPL works closely with development and leadership teams to assess training requirements and design the training needed to upskill a given workforce. It regularly works with the world’s leading precision and advanced manufacturers across wide-ranging sectors including aerospace, automotive and medical, to design and deliver the training that will give a workforce the exact skills and knowledge they need.

Learn anytime, anywhere

With time away from the day job being expensive and inconvenient, NPL has a growing portfolio of e-learning courses, which includes general measurement, dimensional measurement and specialist measurement. Learners can benefit from a variety of measurement training courses accessible from any device, whenever it suits them, fitted around busy work schedules.

Real-world impact

NPL ensures that its cutting-edge measurement science has a positive impact in the real world, and transferring measurement skills from the laboratory to industry is an important part of that mission. NPL’s technological advances have been built on a foundation of reliable and internationally agreed standards of measurement.

NPL’s courses enable learners to make a difference within their workplaces. Instilling the right measurement skills and behaviours improves their organisation’s capabilities and ensures that measurements are consistent and, more importantly, trustworthy. Supporting improvements in the manufacturing process provides employers with the opportunity to generate a return on training investment and, ultimately, potential cost savings to the business.

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