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NDT apprenticeships: A comprehensive pathway for career progression

03 July 2019

The British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT) discusses the progress of the non-destructive testing (NDT) apprenticeship standard and how it has paved the way for new apprenticeships.

In December 2015, the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT) was pleased to announce that the first non-destructive testing (NDT) apprenticeship standard had been approved for delivery. In the four and a half years that have passed, many changes have taken place, yet the NDT apprenticeship scheme has continued to evolve and the future looks very promising. 

The scheme so far

To date, BINDT has developed three NDT apprenticeship schemes in close partnership with the development group led by Rolls-Royce with participation from over 50 other companies. There are currently over 130 apprentices engaged in one of the three levels of NDT apprenticeship that are available.

Employers can fill an apprenticeship vacancy with new staff or use the schemes to upskill existing members of staff. The training provided will allow them to acquire substantially new skills and the content of the training is materially different to any prior training or a previous apprenticeship. This gives a significant boost to staff development and personal achievement. BINDT offers a comprehensive apprenticeship pathway for people at all levels within their NDT career.

The NDT Operator apprenticeship
The NDT Operator apprenticeship is aimed at NDT Operators performing inspections within manufacturing processes, often in production-line environments and with high product volumes, using a single NDT method. Inspections apply within manufacturing, in-service inspection or specialised applications, such as NDT equipment development. So, high-volume inspections, production-line environments and specialist applications were three very good reasons why we needed to consider the training and qualification of apprentices in just one NDT method.

In addition to the single NDT method, knowledge and skills will be gained in: health & safety pertinent to the specific requirements of the relevant NDT method; an awareness of other NDT methods and their general capabilities and limitations; the knowledge required (by standards) for the assessment of defects against acceptance/rejection criteria; relevant sector-specific technology, quality aspects and working practices, such as inductions and confidentiality; material and product technology associated with the specific industry sector; and developing an understanding of the consequences of failure and the risk to life.

The NDT Engineering Technician apprenticeship
The NDT Engineering Technician apprenticeship is appropriate for all industries, including power generation, aerospace, motorsport (F1), petrochemical, gas, rail, steel, nuclear, marine, service inspection and many more. The design of the apprenticeship allows companies and applicants to follow different pathways to success by conforming to appropriate international standards, such as BS EN ISO 9712 or EN 4179.

The development of the scheme includes core, sector-specific and company-specific training and qualifications, as well as a measurable demonstration of behaviour, diversity and codes of conduct. The end result will be a fully-rounded NDT Engineering Technician who has the skills to carry out appropriate NDT tasks within their industrial sector and in whom the employer can have considerable confidence. A successful NDT Engineering Technician will hold three NDT certificates (mapped to engineering registration at the EngTech level).

The NDT Engineer apprenticeship
NDT Engineers exist in large organisations, and very often in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and they are the lead authority for NDT competence within their organisation. The NDT Engineer works in specific industries, such as nuclear, aerospace, motorsport, power generation and distribution, manufacturing, railways, oil & gas (on- and offshore), marine and construction. They are among the most senior NDT staff within an organisation and are often responsible for the oversight of all NDT operations, including the preparation of work plans and NDT procedures with which other staff will work in accordance.

NDT Engineers use their acquired knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable NDT systems to operate safely, efficiently and in an environmentally sustainable way, meeting the requirements set out by the employer and those of the professional body. They maintain and manage applications of current and developing technology and undertake engineering design and development within manufacturing, construction and operations.

NDT Engineers use theoretical knowledge to solve problems in developed technologies using proven analytical techniques. They successfully apply knowledge to deliver engineering projects or services using established technologies and methods. They provide financial planning and management, together with taking some responsibility for leading and developing other professional staff. Their knowledge and skills will include cutting-edge NDT techniques, such as corrosion analysis, thermography testing, vibration analysis and advanced inspection techniques. On completion of the apprenticeship, the NDT Engineer will hold a degree (BSc Non-Destructive Testing or BEng Non-Destructive Testing) and will be eligible to apply for professional registration as an Incorporated Engineer (IEng).

Each apprenticeship is placed in a funding band; the upper limit of each band will cap the maximum amount of funds an employer will receive to use towards an individual apprenticeship. The funding caps for the three NDT apprenticeships are as follows:

  • NDT Operator – up to £12,000 funding
  • NDT Engineering Technician – up to £18,000 funding
  • NDT Engineer – up to £27,000 funding.

The NDT end-point assessment package
BINDT has developed a low-cost apprenticeship end-point assessment package that delivers maximum benefit at minimum cost to employers and apprentices. All that is needed is for the employer and apprentice to select BINDT from the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA) database to carry out the end-point assessment, notify BINDT and leave the rest to us.

The benefits of choosing BINDT to carry out the end-point assessment are:

  • Involvement of the Professional Body (BINDT) from the beginning of the apprenticeship
  • Advice on the apprenticeship and the inherent processes
  • Technical support
  • Mentoring and guidance
  • Low-cost end-point assessment
  • Quick turnaround of results
  • Provision of the apprenticeship certificate
  • Presentation of certificate by the President of BINDT
  • BINDT membership (online Affiliate grade)
  • BINDT personal log book
  • BINDT information and records supplement
  • BINDT rucksack to keep essential documents safe
  • BINDT lapel pin
  • Engineering Council Registration (for the first year).

In addition, to improve convenience, the NDT Operator and the NDT Engineering Technician end-point assessments can be carried out at the employer’s, Lead Provider’s or Authorised Training Organisation (ATO)’s/Authorised Qualifying Body (AQB)’s premises, provided the appropriate facilities are available. The NDT Engineer end-point assessment is likely to be carried out at BINDT’s headquarters in Northampton or at the participating university.

Roger Lyon, Project Manager for apprenticeship schemes and a director of BINDT, said: “In terms of NDT education initiatives, we started with a blank sheet of paper and within a very short space of time have become extremely successful at developing apprenticeships and have surpassed the expectations of the professional body and the employer group. Thanks to proactive lead providers, specialist NDT training schools (ATOs), and of course BINDT, the professional body, we have provided our industry sectors with opportunities that we have never had before.”

What does the future hold?
MSc Advanced Industrial Practice (NDT)
The MSc Advanced Industrial Practice (NDT) is aimed specifically at those working in positions of responsibility in NDT who want to develop their expertise within their current profession. The flexible and innovative framework provides learners with the opportunity not only to gain recognition for professional experience and practice, but also to negotiate learning within the workplace to achieve a postgraduate qualification (PGCert, PGDip, MSc and MRes). This unique approach enables learners to enhance their effectiveness within their current role, while simultaneously working towards a qualification. The three modules included are: ‘Recognising Industrial Practice’; ‘Negotiated Work-Based Learning’; and ‘Industrial Practice Research Project’.

The Condition Monitoring apprenticeship
Following the very successful introduction of three NDT apprenticeships, the IfA has given its consent for the development of a condition monitoring (CM) apprenticeship scheme. Large and SME employers, training providers and CM professionals from industry and academia are being invited to be involved in the development of the CM apprenticeship. Employers will benefit from participating with other senior colleagues in the CM industry sector, creating a skilled workforce within their own organisation, boosting staff retention and employee engagement, as well as providing instant access to the apprenticeship scheme and government funding. The development of apprenticeships is employer led; that is to say, employers decide what knowledge, skills and behaviours are included in the apprenticeship.

Interested organisations are invited to attend a presentation that will be delivered by Roger Lyon, at the Sixteenth International Conference on Condition Monitoring and Asset Management (CM2019), to be held in The Principal Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow, UK, from 10h00-12h30 and 14h30-17h00 on Wednesday 26 June 2019. Attendance is free and includes access to the CM2019 Exhibition, as well as lunch, tea and coffee. To register your attendance, visit: http://www.bindt.org/events/CM2019/apprenticeships-workshop/

For further information about the BINDT apprenticeship schemes, email: apprenticeships@bindt.org or visit: www.bindt.org/apprenticeships