HTEC Helps Boost Economy in Alentejo, Portugal
As an organisation, Portugal’s IEFP (Instituto do Emprego e Formação Profissional – Institute of Employment and Vocational Training), says its core values are investing in young people, encouraging them towards professional qualifications and creating attractive assets for commercial employers. Quite fitting then that the IEFP Professional Training Centre of Évora, located some 100km east of Lisbon in the Alentejo region, has become the sixth HTEC (Haas Technical Education Centre) in Portugal.
The IEFP is Portugal’s national public employment service and its mission is to promote the creation of quality employment and combat unemployment through the implementation of progressive policies and training. The organisation also supports students in their integration with the labour market, responding to the needs of employers.
Established in partnership with the Portugal Haas Factory Outlet (HFO), a division of After Sales SA, the main objective of the new HTEC is training highly qualified CNC technicians for the aerospace, automotive and general engineering industries, which in turn will attract investment for the region and help boost the local economy.
“Located in a brand new, ultra modern building, the HTEC CNC department is sited alongside a department for metrology with a fully equipped, temperature controlled laboratory and a facility for composite material engineering,” says Alain Reynvoet, managing director of Haas Automation Europe. “The centre specialises particularly in training people for the aerospace industry as there are a number of new aero manufacturers entering the region.”
The grand opening of the new CNC training centre was attended by José Palma Rita, IEFP regional delegate for Alentejo, Luís Silva, director of the Professional Training Centre of Évora, and Carlos Vilas-Boas, director of the HFO in Portugal.
“It is important that this facility becomes a centre of excellence for the Iberian peninsula – the introduction of the latest generation Haas equipment is sure to bring substantial improvements to the training of highly qualified technicians,” says Mr Palma Rita, emphasising the opportunity students will have to integrate with companies located in the area. “CNC training courses have already started and these young people can now learn how to work with these advanced Haas machine tools that allow the production of complex parts.”
Mr Vilas-Boas explains that the milling technology (a Haas VF-1) at Évora is based on five-axis machining centres used in the aerospace industry for the production of structural aircraft components, while the second machine (a Haas ST-20) is a turning centre with milling capability that allows the production of complex, precision turned parts.
“With these Haas machines the Professional Training Centre of Évora is now fully certified and offers a very advanced level of technology that will not only help train people to work at local companies such as Embraer, but also create human resources that will be very attractive for other companies,” he says.
The Brazilian aircraft manufacturer, Embraer, is currently constructing two component plants in the Alentejo region that will create approximately 600 direct jobs when work is completed in the second half of 2012. One plant (Embraer Metálicas) will work on metal structures such as wings, while the other (Embraer Compósitos) will use composite materials for tail assemblies. A strong supply chain is also emerging and local economists predict an additional 1,200 jobs will be created at Portuguese suppliers.
“In this area we have struggled with a shortage of workers,” says Mr Vilas-Boas. “The Alentejo region is an oasis of employment activity against the current backdrop of economic hardship. We have a need to train 3,000 operators every year but we can't manage to get even a third of that at present.”
The HTEC will certainly help address the needs of local employers in the emerging aerospace cluster, such as Embraer, and provide a huge contribution to the local economy. During the HTEC grand opening, around 180 business visitors from across Portugal saw live machining demonstrations promoting the advantages of Haas technology.
Helder Nunes, a student enrolled on a technical course in CNC maintenance is highly motivated to grasp this new opportunity: “It’s great to have access to leading technology as it means we are benefiting from the best knowledge and training. Our course has only just started, but it’s already very exciting to use Haas machines.”