Pioneering apprenticeship to develop urgent skills for the green energy sector launches at Hopwood Hall

Date published: 06 October 2023

A pioneering apprenticeship, and the first in the UK dedicated to pipeline inspection that incorporates qualifications in hydrogen awareness, has officially welcomed its first cohort of apprentices to Hopwood Hall College and University Centre in Middleton.

The ‘Practitioner in Pipelines for Hydrogen and Utilities’ Apprenticeship (derived from the Construction Support Technician apprenticeship standard) integrates pipeline inspection with a comprehensive ‘safety module’, which includes the world’s very first Ofqual accredited qualification in hydrogen awareness.

The apprenticeship has been devised through a strategic partnership between IACS Training and Education, the training subsidiary of IACS Ltd; Hopwood Hall College and University Centre, a leading apprenticeship provider; and TWI, one of the world’s leading authorities on safety assurance through engineering, materials and joining technologies.

Taking place over a 16-month term, the apprenticeship will be supported by Hydrogen Safe, the specialist safety training provider and TWI, the BGAS-CSWIP certification course tutor that will be responsible for delivering the courses and examination.

While the trainees are new to the sector, their annual income will actually be higher than the average salary in North Manchester. According to PayScale, workers in Rochdale and Oldham on average earn £26,000 and £25,000 respectively each year.

Starting on a basic salary of £28,000 a year, the apprentices will also be able to achieve performance-related salary incentive uplifts as they gain the individual certifications awarded by TWI.

On successful completion of the apprenticeship, each apprentice will be offered a permanent role with IACS Ltd.

James Baker, Director at IACS Training & Education, added: “We are delighted to welcome our first group of 11 apprentices, which have all been recruited from across the North. They are about to embark on a wonderful journey through a programme that has been created specifically for the role they have chosen as their career. Our single focus is to develop highly skilled tradesmen and women who will be able to confidently contribute to the green energy sector. 

“This employer-led initiative marks a significant investment by our business as we aim to meet local and worldwide demand for our highly skilled personnel. We are operating at a time of huge investment in the infrastructure for utilities, principally here in the UK, but also globally as nations around the world look to extend and upgrade their energy supply chains. It also demonstrates to our industry our commitment to people and excellence.

“Together with Hopwood Hall College and University Centre, TWI and Hydrogen Safe, we are supporting a new generation of pipeline inspectors, whilst equipping our apprentices with the green skills they will require to have a long and fulfilling career.”


Julia Heap (top), Heather Claxton (middle) and Laura Bailey (bottom) are pictured with the first cohort of apprentices welcomed onto the pioneering ‘Practitioner in Pipelines for Hydrogen and Utilities’ Apprenticeship
Julia Heap (top), Heather Claxton (middle) and Laura Bailey (bottom) are pictured with the first cohort of apprentices welcomed onto the pioneering ‘Practitioner in Pipelines for Hydrogen and Utilities’ Apprenticeship


Julia Heap, Principal and CEO at Hopwood Hall College and University Centre, commented: “This pioneering training partnership is a brilliant example of how collaborative innovation can make such an impact. By bringing together diverse knowledge, skills, resource and experience, we have been able to innovate and solve a skills challenge and pursue a shared opportunity.

“This ground-breaking apprenticeship training represents a significant step forward in our relentless efforts to ensure that our students are well equipped to deliver the critical skills that the successful growth of the global green energy sector depends upon.

“Providing the right training in our world-class facilities within our Advanced Manufacturing & Technology Centre means that we are perfectly positioned to deliver the highly skilled, well paid, green workforce of the future. This is great news for skills in Greater Manchester and beyond.

“We look forward to working in partnership with the team at IACS, IACS T&E, TWI and Hydrogen Safe and to establish a strong and effective recruitment pipeline for those green jobs for the future.”

The ‘Practitioner in Pipelines for Hydrogen and Utilities’ apprenticeship will yield recognised qualifications and certifications, from training and examinations delivered by TWI, Hydrogen Safe and an Energy and Utility Skills Register card (EUSR).

The apprenticeship standard relates essentially to the Construction Built Environment qualification, and will include welding, coating and painting inspection, non-destructive testing and safety around hydrogen awareness.

Another group will have the opportunity to seize their own £28,000 apprenticeships when recruitment starts again for a second cohort in November 2023.

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