Case Study : Darchem Engineering and Hartlepool College


The National Skills Academy for Nuclear helped broker a relationship between its employer member Darchem Engineering and Hartlepool College, a member of its High Quality Provider Network. Both of these organisations have identified a number of compelling benefits arising from the relationship that have been valued in monetary terms.

At the AGM in September 2012 both organisations reported that membership of NSAN created bottom line business benefits. This case study sought to qualify and quantify those benefits.

Darchem Engineering’s involvement in the National Skills Academy for Nuclear began with a discussion between the HR Department (led by HR Manager Shirley Wilson) and Julie Maykels of NSAN. Shirley says:

“We were trying to develop future business growth in the nuclear industry. NSAN could provide us with some essential requirements – NS4P and Triple Bar training – also the expertise and knowledge about how the industry is developing and what we need to do to be ready as part of the supply chain.

A lot of our information about expectations of the Supply Chain comes from NSAN, as does added value such as putting us in touch with potential providers to cover any skills gaps we might identify.”

Shirley also believes that the investment helps them be more competitive when it comes to winning contracts:

“What we’re hearing is that when customers are seeing two equal bids they’ll give more weight to those with the Skills need to demonstrate all the other elements the Nuclear sector want in terms of a suitably qualified and experienced workforce, it’s not enough to just have a great product – and that comes from NSAN... one example is our Nuclear Business Development Director coming back after talking to another business and saying we need to have people going through the Triple Bar – and we’d already done that because NSAN had made us aware of it.”

A huge benefit has been the introduction to Hartlepool College, whose provision has made a dramatic impact on the productivity and gains from training existing employees and especially new apprentices.

“The customer responsiveness that we get from Hartlepool exceeds anything that we’ve seen with our previous providers – the willingness to work with us and consider what our programme should look like, and tailor it to our requirements, is second to none. The added value of them being able to add on additional modules to our traditional Apprenticeship programme – Nuclear Safety Awareness, welding to a nuclear standard...we couldn’t have got that from anywhere else.”

The relationship with Darchem is just one of the benefits that Hartlepool College have felt since joining NSAN says Steve Wallis, Assistant Principal. 

“At the time we joined what impressed us was that there was really clear support from industry for NSAN. About 6 months in Julie Maykels was very instrumental in setting up early meetings between ourselves and Darchem.”

Both Steve and Shirley assert that their relationship was unlikely to have ever happened to the same extent as it has due to the input of NSAN; at best, it would have come about slower and (without NSAN’s expert input around the skills needed for nuclear) less effectively. The message is clear. You get out what you put in, and real commercial return can be achieved by being a full and active member of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear.

For more detailed information on this case study, please download the Value of a Long-Term Relationship report.