top of page

Aberavon MS visits Centre of Excellence

While awaiting the devastating news from Tata about the forthcoming redundancies in Port Talbot, Senedd Dirpwy Lywydd and Member for Aberavon David Rees, took time out to visit a newly established training academy in his own backyard. Based on Port Talbot’s Dockland, a boundary length throw from his own constituency offices, the JES Skills Academy offers hope and a brighter future for a town rocked by the news from its principal employer.   

With the help and financial assistance supplied through UK Shared Prosperity Funding, JES Group Ltd has launched The JES Skills Academy – a Centre of Excellence for the development of Fabrication & Welding skills aligned with industry need and the opportunities presented by the Celtic Freeport.

Expert face-2-face tuition and mentoring; a full range of specialist training courses, use of the latest immersive and interactive digital technologies alongside the vast range of skills accumulated by the existing workforce, will enable Academy graduates to be work ready. Together, these give the project its USP.

Workforce skills not captured, would otherwise be lost to retirement. Their use in this project in a mentoring capacity, alongside innovative digital technology and expert, safe, experiential training in a secure, non-hazardous, emissions free environment will guarantee that SW Wales has a unique Centre of Excellence for the development of Welding and Fabrication skills.

Apprentices, existing welders requiring CPD, employment seekers looking for entry pathways into the industry and local school pupils, through a broad range of courses, will be able to sample, learn or augment the skills needed to choose or improve a career in mechanical engineering.

The objective is to future proof the Fabrication and Welding learning process and deliver an enterprise class blended training centre with solutions that address the Fabrication and Welding industry’s skills shortage across SW Wales.

Reflecting on the resulting news from Tata, David Rees said, ‘The level of redundancies announced and the impact that they will have on Port Talbot and the larger Welsh economy, cannot be overestimated. For many along the M4 corridor and up into the South Wales valleys, the steelworks is a critical economic enabler. The loss of all these jobs will be devastating to so many families. The Welsh Government will seek any and all opportunity to help mitigate the effect of these redundancies. My constituents however are made of sterner stuff than most and in amongst the very bad news, I’m pleased that with the Academy in place there is opportunity and hope for the future.

 The JES Skills Academy has been a highly ambitious project from the outset and it has fulfilled my expectations. Every strategic document across South Wales highlights the need to create a welding workforce that is ready to meet the demands of the Celtic Freeport and the Renewable Energy Industry.  The outstanding training on offer, covers a broad spectrum and promises to create a welding practitioner workforce well prepared for immediate gainful employment. In doing so, it sends out a signal to those companies and investors looking for a workforce willing and able to do business onshore and in the Celtic Sea, that Wales and Port Talbot in particular, is ready to accommodate them with the provision of these skills. Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council has been very supportive of this project through the UK Shared Prosperity Funding it has applied for and I echo the company’s acknowledgement of their role in securing that funding’. 


Spokesperson for JES, Mr. Sam Owen said, ‘The Skills Academy was originally conceived as a means of improving the training that the JES Group was providing its own apprenticeship programme. We needed to ensure that our apprentices were industry ready and in a position to contribute positively to employment immediately on completion of their training. Our original aims and objectives have very quickly developed. What we have now, is a Centre of Excellence for all of South Wales.

Based in Port Talbot, the Academy is wholly inclusive and offers easy access to hands-on training and mentoring from expert instructors. Allied to the latest digital technologies, it now affords anyone wishing to enter the industry or needing to hone their existing welding skills to the highest possible level, with the opportunity and the pathways to do so. We have invited David Rees here today to acknowledge his help and the support he has provided in our endeavours. We are also extremely grateful to NPTCBC’s Officers and Elected Members for the huge amount of assistance that they have given and the financial support received from UK Shared Prosperity Funding, which has been a key factor in helping to launch this project’.

Pictured (above) at the JES Skills Welding Academy Centre of Excellence on Port Talbot Docks are from left Laurence Wood (Repsar) Project Consultant, David Rees MS (Aberavon), Josef O’ Callaghan, Dylan Russ, Casey Glover (all JES Apprentices, Jake Neale (JES Instructor), Sam Gardener, Carter Roberts (JES Apprentices) and Project Lead Sam Owen.

(photo courtesy of Finch Media) 

bottom of page