Bassetlaw engineering firm benefits from fast track degree programme with Siemens

A Bassetlaw engineering firm involved in prestigious projects including Tower Bridge and the London Eye has fast tracked the training of its engineers after partnering with Siemens.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 3:02 pm

Fairfield Control Systems, based in Retford, specialises in the design, manufacture, installation, commissioning and 24/7 support of industrial control solutions across a wide range of markets.

The SME began enrolling its engineers to Siemens’ one year ‘top up’ degree programme in 2019, having previously used a two-year part-time degree.

The innovative solution gives engineers a BEng Hons (Bachelor of Engineering) in Control and Automation.

Engineers Billy Hanner and Jack Wilson are pictured.

Co-designed and co-delivered by Siemens Digital Industries and the University of Salford, it uses a block delivery model combining academic modules in automation, robotics, and embedded systems.

Fairfields is expecting its fifth engineer to graduate in the autumn.

Peter McMorrow, engineering director, said: “Our growth strategy means we need to increase the pipeline of talent every year.

"By moving to the Siemens one-year degree programme we can fast track the upskilling process of our engineers with industry relevant training content, while the block release approach allowed them time to focus on their studies and condensed their learning periods.

“This accelerated degree option is also now an attractive recruitment tool.”

Among those graduating is Jack Wilson a 34-year-old design engineer.

The degree is the end of a culmination of an extraordinary five-year journey which saw him quit his well-paid job in construction and embark on Fairfield’s apprenticeship scheme, all while trying to raise a young family.

“I never saw myself going as far as a degree, partly because of the cost and time involved and I doubted I could achieve that academic level,” Jack said.

“But the fast track, block release approach was an attractive option.

"It has meant I have been able to really concentrate on taking on board what I am being taught, learn in my own time and at my own pace and deliver the results.

"Then, take it back to my day job. It has been fantastic.

"Starting again with a new career at the age I did was a very difficult decision and a hard job balancing work and my family responsibilities. But with the support of my loved ones and Fairfield Control Systems I’ve kept my focus and not looked back.”

Design engineer Billy Hanner, 22, also benefited from the innovative approach of the programme.

He graduated with a first-class degree last year despite navigating the challenges of autism.

Billy’s neurodiversity meant that in academic settings he struggled with exams while he excelled in practical assessment.

“My academic experiences have been a mixed bag, but the degree programme really brought the best out of me,” Billy said.

“The block release approach meant that I could keep focus on a topic and learn it inside and out. I was then able to immediately apply the new skills and knowledge to my job.”

As part of his degree Billy built a test rig of PLCs, drives and HMIs, and a training guide, which is now being used to train Fairfield’s new apprentices, meaning Billy has now also turned teacher.

“I’ve always had a passion for engineering so, to be doing the job I love and having achieved a degree and further my career, means the world to me,” he added.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Sam Jackson, editor