The downturn in the oil and gas industry is opening up new directions for engineering apprentices at the Angus Training Group.
Food, textiles and automation are just some of the sectors being targeted by bosses at the group’s Arbroath base.
The diversification plans were highlighted during a visit by Minister for Employability and Training Jamie Hepburn, and Angus South SNP MSP Graeme Dey on Monday.
The group, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2016, was set up to provide a training service to the engineering industry.
It has expanded from working with 10 companies at the outset to 56 today.
General manager Gary Talbot said: “I was delighted that the minister accepted our invitation to tour the facilities, and receive feedback from apprentices on the training we deliver here.
“With the downturn in the oil and gas industry, we are diversifying the range of training on offer, and we now engage with the services and facilities sectors, covering food, textiles and automation.
“We are also exploring opportunities with SMEs who have an engineering aspect to their services.
“The visit provided us with an opportunity to discuss a number of issues that are affecting the training centre.”
Mr Dey said he was pleased that the minister had taken the opportunity to see first-hand the excellent work that goes on at the group.
“The visit was extremely productive in that it allowed him not only to hear from the management on the plans they have for the future but also from the apprentices who were very enthusiastic and positive about the training they are receiving,” he said.
“The group has faced challenges as a consequence of the downturn in the oil and gas sector and is working hard to diversify and become less dependent on what is happening in the North Sea.
“It was therefore particularly pleasing to meet apprentices who are being trained to work on cash machines and other non-energy related industries.”
Mr Hepburn said: “It was fantastic to meet and witness the enthusiasm of the young apprentices at Angus Training Group and hear how they are benefiting from their apprenticeship training.
“With more than 140 Modern Apprenticeships in training at ATG, the company clearly sees the advantage of this approach which is also helping to boost the economy in Angus.”
He welcomed the support of businesses and said apprenticeships were “life changing opportunities”, which provide the chance, not only to work and earn, but also to achieve an industry-recognised qualification to support future career ambitions.