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Apprenticeship award for Banks Mining

L-R: Shaw Trust chief executive officer Nick Bell with Banks Group HR director Lou Lightfoot and training co-ordinator Lewis Cowey

Company named Employer of the Year in Ixion national apprenticeship skills awards scheme
                                                                                                          
BANKS Mining’s commitment to providing their apprentices with the best possible preparation for their working lives has been recognized in a major national awards initiative.

The Co. Durham-based firm has been named Employer Of The Year in the Apprenticeship Skills Awards run by Ixion Holdings Ltd, a not-for-profit group of companies that provides apprenticeship advice, guidance, development and training across the UK.

The award was presented to The Banks Group’s HR director, Louise Lightfoot, and training co-ordinator Lewis Cowey in front of a 250-strong audience at a special celebration event at Boreham House in Essex.

Ixion Holdings, who are a subsidiary of major UK employment and skills charity The Shaw Trust Group, worked with The Banks Group on the creation of a bespoke plant operating apprenticeship programme at Banks’ Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines, near Cramlington, in Northumberland.

Each candidate received a national vocational qualification in recognition of their skills and competence across different heavy plant earthmoving equipment to help widen the range of skills they have been able to develop.

The work undertaken by Ixion and Banks staff to support these apprentices with their training was commended last year by Ofsted for the high levels of health and safety, sustainability and corporate and social responsibility displayed at the two sites as part of an inspection of Ixion’s provision of specialist heavy plant operations training, for which they achieved a Grade 1 ‘outstanding’ result.

Jacqueline Oughton, managing director of Ixion Holdings, said: ‘The Banks Group executive and learning and development teams have shown exemplary support in enabling their staff to undertake these valuable apprenticeship programmes that have improved skills across the workforce, and I am absolutely delighted with the progress staff have made, with many achieving formal accredited qualifications for the first time in their lives.

‘The Banks Group have heavily supported the off-the-job training element by providing access to on-site training facilities at their surface mines. Ixion Holdings have supported an increase in UK productivity of over £50 million in the last year and the apprentices at The Banks Group have made a significant contribution to this. I am very proud that Ixion Holding have supported The Banks Group, resulting in increased benefits to their organization.’

Keith Tarn, group HR manager at The Banks Group, added: ‘A key challenge for any business is ensuring it keeps refreshing its workforce’s skills base and makes the best possible use of the expertise of highly experienced staff who can help all recruits learn on the job.

‘Our apprenticeship programme helps our recruits to gain skills that will serve them well while they’re working with us, as well as right through their working lives, and we’ve seen tangible benefits from taking a bespoke approach to apprenticeship provision at our Shotton and Brenkley Lane surface mines. It’s especially pleasing to have the impact that our apprenticeship provision makes on the skills and life chances of the people we employ being recognized through this award.

‘Providing young people with the chance to develop practical workplace skills is an essential undertaking for both long-standing businesses like ourselves and for the sustainable success of the wider regional economy, and we are committed to continuing to provide even more apprenticeship opportunities in the future.’

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