AIS Group provides advanced industrial services such as industrial training and competency assessment and is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers and installers of passive fire protection and insulation systems, for which it won the prestigious Exporter of the Year award by the British Chambers of Commerce Chamber in 2015 and the Queen’s Award for Enterprise. AIS Group employs 150+ workers at its North Tyneside head office and additional sites in Grimsby, Huddersfield and Aberdeen. Working with blue-chip clients from around the globe, AIS Group currently operate in six divisions; technical insulation and fire protection systems, training services, facilities management, business efficiency related software, online sales and manpower services.
The business was established in 2007 by entrepreneur Paul Stonebanks who saw a gap in the market for high-quality technical insulation jacketing to protect pipework and offshore structures from fire, corrosion and water damage. The training arm of the business grew out of the company’s extensive rope access expertise from installing these systems. AIS Training now trains more than 17,500 delegates annually from all over the world at its four state-of-the-art industrial training villages and offers more than specialist skills and competency courses, 50+ expert instructors and dedicated career and training managers.
With national colleges for renewables high on the Government’s agenda, AIS Group visited the world renowned training facility at HCF CATCH (an industry led partnership supporting the process, energy, engineering and renewable industries within the Humber region) and knew it would be a perfect hub and bespoke campus site for their training programmes. Whilst choosing a site, AIS Group were also very aware of the ever-growing energy, chemical and renewable energy industries within the Humber, and the fact that the area had become home to leading client names such as; DONG Energy, Phillips 66, Centrica, Siemens, Eon, Vestra and so forth. Subsequently, AIS Training was set up in Immingham in October 2015; in an award winning destination perfectly located in one of the UK’s most cost-effective, accessible locations, 3 minutes from Stallingborough train station and 10 minutes from Humberside Airport. AIS Group’s investment resulted in a brand new state-of-the-art £1.5m training centre.
AIS Training’s skills and competency courses range from; electrical, mechanical, first aid, health and safety, rigging and lifting, sea survival, medical, wind technician, fabric maintenance, emergency response and rescue, NDT, rope access and working at height for the offshore, oil, gas and renewable energy sectors within the Humber. Within 2016 it is anticipated that 50 courses out of the 220 courses within the AIS Training portfolio will be delivered from the Catch site for over 1,600 delegates.
Chris Holden is the Centre Manager, a local man who previously ran RES Offshore from Grimsby Docks and is ex-Chair of the GRP (Grimsby Renewables Partnership). Chris’ role is to develop and grow the AIS offering that will be delivered from the Catch site at Immingham, as well as manage a new Marine Safety Centre with a training pool and associated on-site facilities. On-site there are currently 3 employees, including Chris, with an ambition to grow the workforce to 30 within the next 12 months.
AIS Training offers unique training programmes, including; part and full time programmes, diplomas, traineeships and apprenticeships, all delivered in an industrial environment and at what can be classed as some of the UK’s most advanced facilities at Catch. Centre Manager, Chris Holden said; “Our training is world-class and at AIS you get the complete service, our USP is that we are the only training provider to provide all courses from one site – one course, one place, one cost.”
The Catch site already comprises of a Rope Access building for the rope access, working at height and confined spaces training area; a rig practise platform; a medical centre and classrooms; a Renewable Centre of Excellence and an electrical/mechanical fire-fighting and rescue area. Centre Manager, Chris Holden said; “You can see the DONG Energy Westermost Rough site and Eon’s Humber Gateway site in the North Sea from our Working at Height facility – not many other training centres can see the scale of the offshore windfarms from their centres.” There are also exciting plans in place for a further £10m investment including; an offshore survival centre and pool to deliver helicopter underwater escape simulator training by Autumn 2016; a new two-story build which will house a luxury on-site delegate accommodation centre housing delegates and an adjacent award winning restaurant connected by a glass facade; break-out zones; an extra 12 new classrooms with space for 24 delegates; an exhibition and conference room accommodating 120 delegates; and a STEM Centre.
AIS Training has taken things one step further, sticking to their motto ‘raise your game’ by introducing the Step Programme. Already proving very successful at the Tyneside site, its aim is to help local communities, boost the local economy, change mindsets and create better futures for our local workforce. AIS Training’s skills and safety training experts have helped get 10,000+ people into work. Centre Manager, Chris Holden said; “many people who have been out of work for a longtime or have never worked feel that they can’t work, this course is about changing that mindset and improving their employability, we provide training in CV writing and preparing for an interview, for example.”
In addition, AIS Training will take 230+ individuals through the Connect Programme, which is aimed at 16-24 year olds who are interested in a career in the offshore, oil, wind and gas, construction, maritime and/or manufacturing industries. Potential students receive £3,000 worth of industry certificates, as well as expert tuition, work experience, 4 week-long industry sector taster sessions, traineeship placements consisting of 8 weeks in the industry and pathways to real jobs. Supported every step of the way the Connect Programme really gets the students work ready for a career of their own choice and helps them gain confidence and obtain the right skills to find employment, as well as matching them to employers. Centre Manager, Chris Holden said; “by working together with industry we can close the Humber’s skills gap, help local businesses to decrease the skills shortages and nurture young talent whilst creating better futures for the youngsters. The whole ethos of the programme is to Connect the next generation of leaders with industry and for them to be ‘job ready’ within 12-18 months for a variety of roles such as; wind technician, welder, rigger, scaffolder, crane operator, engineer, electrical and mechanical technicians etc.”
AIS Training and the Humber are a perfect fit with fellow Bondholder DONG Energy, who alone is pumping £6bn into the Humber region from now until 2019, as it builds further fleets of offshore wind turbines. Along with other offshore activity happening within the Humber, AIS Training is now perfectly placed to support this thriving supply chain provide for and help grow the UK’s Energy Estuary. It is no doubt that we will continue to see this company develop, creating more jobs and additional bases throughout the world, as well as investing heavily in the Immingham training complex – a key part of AIS Group’s phenomenal success story.