A training centre teaching students the skills needed to work on overhead power lines has opened in Cumbria.

Overhead line engineering business SPIE set up the centre at Newton Rigg College near Penrith in a bid to tackle a recognised skills gap in the industry.

The three-year course has been accredited by the EU and is designed to train apprentices to work for SPIE.

Teaching begins with off-the-job training in the classroom and in a purpose built training field on the Newton Rigg site. Off-site learning exercises will also be taking place at a number of SPIE-managed UK locations.

Around 160 people applied for the 20 apprentice places on the current course which guarantees a job with SPIE on successful completion.

"This strategically important initiative demonstrates our leadership in the industry and commitment to reducing a widening industry skills gap. It will also boost the expertise of SPIE’s workforce; our apprentices will receive the best-in-class training, and in the future will be able to provide an invaluable contribution to our nationwide Overhead Line Engineering team.”

Mike Snee, Distribution & Transmission Operations Director for SPIE UK

“We are thrilled to welcome SPIE UK to the Newton Rigg campus as the venue for their new training centre, we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.

Wes Johnson, Principal for Newton Rigg College

Below is Kate Walby's report on the new training centre.