top of page

We Don’t Need No Education

But Instructors Are Sent Straight Back to School


Within hours of starting their first day as senior instructors at the JES Skills Academy, Port Talbot’s centre of excellence for the development of welding skills, the two latest editions to the company’s workforce were sent straight ‘back to school’.


No sitting on the ‘naughty step’ for Chris Sargeant and Curtis Rees however, as they were pressed into immediate action at St. Therese’s Primary School on the town’s Sandfields estate. 


‘Within hours of starting our first day at The Skills Academy, we were drafted straight into action and met Headteacher Mrs Ruth Lewis, staff and Governors’, said new Schools Liaison And Training Officer Chris Sargeant. ’Part of our role at The Skills Academy is to work with Neath Port Talbot Council’s (NPTC) Employability Team to offer career pathways through training and upskill that lead into employment in mechanical engineering. Another important part is to create awareness of the opportunities that exist in the industry. There is a lot of talk about Net Zero but it is an unachievable goal without welding and this is a message we need to promote. A greener future is not possible without recourse to the ‘black trades’ like welding, fabrication and pipe fitting and there is a huge shortage of skilled welders in Wales’.


‘Our role today is to create awareness but we are also tasked to act almost like football scouts, to create a pipeline of talent for JES and the overall welding industry in NPT. People often refer to it as succession planning and we need to identify and signal to those pupils who have no interest in pursuing academic careers, who may not have the financial wherewithal at this stage to look at university as an option, or who have real talent which is best employed elsewhere, that there are other options out there for them to aspire to. This message needs to be pushed out as early in their school life as possible. There is a huge deficit of skills in the UK workforce, whenever and wherever this occurs, there will be well paid jobs waiting to be filled.  Today is the start of a ‘signposting’ process and our efforts will be concentrated initially on areas like Sandfields and Aberavon that need it most’.


Sergeant’s colleague, welding instructor Curtis Rees said, ‘The Skills Academy through JES have purchased the very latest Augmented Reality welding sets at considerable expense. As well as their use at the Academy, they are earmarked for schools like St. Therese’s and other locations that demand safe, non hazardous, environmentally friendly conditions in order to facilitate off-site training. Engagement is critical in the learning process and these devices bring the world of work, experiential, hands-on training valued by so many, into the community’.


Responding to the visit, St. Therese’s Headteacher Ruth Lewis said, ‘I’m delighted that my school is going to be included in this initiative and we look forward to welcoming JES staff from The Skills Academy here again in the very near future. That the project is inclusive and non-gender specific is welcoming as it opens it up to all pupils. For some, academia holds no attraction and little interest. What The Skills Academy offers is a much needed alternative. While we actively and enthusiastically promote the Net Zero message to all our pupils, the visit today has made us all apprise and appreciate just what needs to be done to achieve the Welsh Government’s goals. There is now a ray of light shining through the doom and gloom descending from the recent news at Tata. The Skills Academy offers training, upskill, jobs and alternative career pathways but above all else, it is offering much needed hope for the future’

bottom of page