With my current resolve to do something constructive with my hands I decided that I'd like to get some practical training and develop some skills using CNC machines and perhaps some welding. Being aware of hotcourses and floodlight I thought it'd be fairly easy to locate a suitable evening course at a local community college.
My searching however was fruitless, yielding only a welding course at Newham college. Instead I turned to the 'City and Guilds' website to investigate relevant qualifications that they offer in this field. Sure enough I found a course that looked perfect: 'Performing Engineering Operations'. It seemed to have a nice mix of machining and welding - quite exciting. Next I needed to find a course provider who would offer this as a part time evening class. A quick postcode search at City and Guilds indicated that the City and Islington College - right on my doorstep - was registered to provide this course. Excellent...
Unfortunately it turns out that although the college is registered to provide this course it does not currently offer it to students. In fact the majority of colleges registered for 'Performing Engineering Operations' do not actually provide it. Furthermore, the institutions that did only offer it on a full time basis so I'm out of luck there.
I've tried to find alternatives by posting requests for information on both the Maker forum and the sci.engr.mech newsgroup but there as been little information arriving. An educational professional has explained that my difficulty in finding a course is due to the reluctance of the govenrment to provide opportunities for learning that do not lead to a qualification. However, this does not quite explain why I could have my pick of Jewelry manufacturing courses but can't find anyone to teach me how to use a CNC machine.
My next port of call will be the Open University but I find it unlikely that I'll be able to learn practical engineering skills by mail!