Trainees flocking to offshore inspection in Fylde

A class of trainees on the NDT course at Talon NDT Blackpool
A class of trainees on the NDT course at Talon NDT Blackpool
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Blackpool and Fleetwood are rapidly becoming centres for the training of offshore industry as a new series of courses has launched.

Organisers of non destructive testing qualifications courses at Talon NDT Blackpool say they have seen a flood of applicants since the summer.

The sector involves the testing of welding and construction, such as in the oil and gas industry, using a 
variety of hi-tech equipment and techniques including ultrasonics, eddy current testing and magnetic particle inspection.

Whitehills-based Talon formed when the Aberdeen parent company invested in C & J Inspection Services, the Blackpool rope access experts.

Les Riches, course instructor, said they had seen a surge of people in the 20 to 25 years age bracket looking to retrain in the lucrative NDT field.

He said: “It is a well paid industry, anything from £250 to £500 an hour depending on your experience.

“We have seen a lot of unemployed people coming to us and a lot of skilled tradesmen such as plumbers and joiners looking to move into it.

“We have seen a lot come to us from Liverpool , Burnley and Blackburn as well as locally. There is also the travel. “It is not for everyone but in the offshore industry they can work in Asia, Australia, Africa and Brazil as well as the local offshore and the North Sea.

“I was out in Brazil when the World Cup was on, which was great.

“There is a large community of offshore workers in the Blackpool area and especially in Fleetwood, and it is a centre for NDT and rope access training. It is more cost effective for a lot of people to come here for training than going to Sheffield or Aberdeen.

“A lot of the younger trainees like the idea of coming to Blackpool for a while and we have organised accommodation deals such as with the Strand Hotel.”

He said the training was not cheap, starting from £930 a course, but the rewards were high and many took the training a step at a time to spread the cost and allow the complex information to sink in.

“One of the things we are seeing is ex-services men coming to us using their Enhanced Leaving Credits to retrain.”

He said the company offers direct entry at Level 2 which allows the tester to write reports on their work and therefore earn at a higher level and all the courses are to British Standards.

“After eight to 10 weeks’ training they can be qualified as a welding inspector and earning decent money.”