November 1 marked the first anniversary of the BITA Academy. Created as a partnership between BITA and acclaimed training provider City of Bristol College, the Academy was opened in 2011 by Jack Lopresti MP, to attract a fresh stream of engineering talent into one of the UK’s most important industries: materials handling.
Over the last 12 months, the Academy has established itself as a high-calibre institution providing top-quality training and real career prospects for its apprentices. Having welcomed its first students in January 2012, it offers both a three-year Higher Apprenticeship qualification and an Advanced Level Apprenticeship qualification achieved during a fourth year of study. Due to the way it can tailor its fourth-year course content, there is equal scope for students to progress through an academic degree course if required.
From a standing start the academy has now recruited 59 apprentices in Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4. Thanks to the ‘pure fork lift truck’ course content (addressing both internal combustion and electric power sources); graduates will be fully equipped to work with the complete range of products on the market. Companies such as Atlet, Still, BJB, Crown and Briggs Equipment have already placed apprentices, demonstrating an excellent level of support.
James Clark, Secretary-General of BITA, notes: "The forklift sector has displayed consistent recovery against the backdrop of recession we’ve endured in recent years. With more promising economic indicators now appearing, the Academy will help us maintain a strong corps of service engineers to ensure our lift trucks keep doing their job reliably, efficiently and above all safely."
Karl Baum, Programme Training Manager at the BITA Academy, comments: "We’re delighted with the outcome of our first year. From the start we’ve pursued our ‘win-win’ mandate of proactively recruiting high-quality apprentices to meet the industry’s current and future requirements, while also providing a real career path for young people with the ambition to become tomorrow’s industry leaders."
As part of its recruitment drive, the BITA Academy is significantly investing in promotions to future students, including sponsoring The Apprenticeship Guide, and preparing for a very active role at IMHX 2013 that will include announcing the winners of the ‘Enduro Challenge’ competition for UK secondary schools. The Enduro Challenge will reward school-designed, school-built vehicles in three categories (Endurance, Design/Innovation and Entrepreneurship) with cash prizes totalling £10,000 for winning teams.
At the same time City of Bristol College is investing heavily in modernising and improving the Parkway site where the BITA Academy is located. The end result will be a new Advanced Engineering Centre that unites the three departments of Engineering, Transport and Aeronautics in a true technology campus, substantially enhancing the learning environment for students. Construction is currently in progress and the entire site will be complete by September 2013.