Requirements and benefits of the Engineering Technician apprenticeship

This month, I will explain the rationale behind the development of the Engineering Technician apprenticeship and talk about the detailed requirements and benefits to the apprentice, employer and industry at large...

The employers that contributed towards the development of the apprenticeship were very clear about their requirements: they wanted to develop a competent inspection technician who understood the science behind the NDT methods and who could work independently and be an asset to the wider engineering community. As a result of this requirement, the Engineering Technician will have the knowledge and skills required to perform multiple inspections, analyse results, diagnose inconsistencies and provide solutions. The Engineering Technician may also be required to lead a team of NDT Operators, manage an area of work and offer support and advice to subordinates. The results of Engineering Technician inspections are taken at face value and, therefore, specialists rely on NDT accuracy when deciding whether to operate, repair or replace components. The importance of the role of the NDT Engineering Technician cannot, therefore, be overstated.

The Engineering Technician needs to be trained and qualified in three NDT methods, of which at least one must be a complex method; in this case, a complex method is either ultrasonics, eddy current, radiography or thermography. The apprentice must attain certificates of competence in accordance with ISO 9712 or Letters of Approval in accordance with EN 4179.

In addition to the NDT competences, the Engineering Technician will acquire the knowledge and skills to understand: the relevant mathematics necessary to support the application of technical and practical skills, including numerical and data analysis; formula-based engineering and the scientific principles underpinning relevant current technologies; industry-specific product technology, including material types, defect types, defect mechanisms, growth rates, industry-specific NDT applications and R&D opportunities; and how to use the results of engineering NDT analysis for the purpose of developing solutions to well-defined engineering problems. Behaviours, such as leadership, teamwork, respect, ethics and personal responsibility, are also important features.

Employers will benefit from a highly-trained Engineering Technician who has focused his/her development on the relevant industry sector and, as a result, has extensive knowledge of the employing company’s specific requirements. The apprentice will have developed transferable skills specific to the employer’s industry sector and the employing organisation. The employer’s business opportunities and the apprentice’s knowledge and skills will complement each other, which will pave the way for mutual benefit of continued employment.

Next month, I will discuss the content of the NDT Operator apprenticeship and why the employers thought it necessary to develop two apprenticeships rather than one.

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