AIS helps engineering specialist with fresh talent as it prepares for growth


A North-East engineering company, which is benefitting from the growth of microelectronics in the region, is taking on four new apprentices from AIS CONNECT to help fuel its expansion plans.

Northern Engineering was set up in 2008 by former Atmel workers Mark Hodges and Mark Davey after the North Tyneside plant closed. Both Marks have considerable experience in specialised process engineering and enjoyed lengthy careers in the engineering, oil and gas sectors prior to Atmel.

This extensive expertise has helped Northern Engineering grow from an initial team of two to 16 staff today. As well as working on prestigious projects like the manufacture of mobile water treatment units in Kenya and the installation and commissioning of pipework to a large manufacturer in Durham, the company is now seeing an influx of business from the expanding microelectronic industry in Sedgefield.

To prepare for this increase in work, Northern Engineering is investing heavily in its workforce. As well as upskilling existing workers in specialist coded welding qualifications, the company has appointed four new apprentices. All with the help of apprenticeship specialist, CONNECT.

Mark Hodges explains: “We first approached AIS Training to commission coded welding to enable our personnel to work on a recently won project in the nuclear industry.

“While visiting AIS’s 20-acre training village in North Shields, we found out about the pre-apprenticeship programme. This basically enables you to try out youngsters during a four-week work period to see if they fit into your organisation and if they are happy with the job. Our workforce is highly skilled, but senior.  As part of our transfer of knowledge and succession planning we were keen to bring new young talent into the business to safeguard our future growth.

Northern Engineering s new apprentices

Northern Engineering’s new apprentices Left to Right: Jackson Bell, Joe Dunn, James Nicholson, Cain Dobson

“We took on four trainees through CONNECT, who were interested in joining us after hearing more about the company. They came with a ready-made portfolio of skills they’d learnt at CONNECT such as working at height and iconfined spaces, working with abrasive wheels and first aid skills. This meant they had a good understanding of the workplace. It gave them a great head-start and meant we weren’t starting from scratch.

“Although we were originally only going to take two on as apprentices, we decided to take all four trainees on due to the high quality of their work. When our trainees found out they were elated and we presented them with theirwn toolboxes as a starting gift.

“All of the apprentices will be fully immersed in our business, getting invaluable on-the-job experience and industry training. By building on these solid foundations we end up with a ready pool of skilled and competent personnel to help take the business forward.”

Rob Storey, CONNECT group head of education, said: “AIS has an unrivalled track record of helping people improve their skill-set and progress their careers. Every year we commercially train up to 50,000 people to the highest global industry standards so we understand exactly what skills and competencies employers are looking for. We are using this extensive expertise to develop fresh young talent with the skills employers need.”

Find out more about AIS Connect programmes at or contact 0191 3410250