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Consortium to build £3m advanced manufacturing training hub in Shropshire

Employer-led centre aims to bridge the engineering skills gap

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Plans for an advanced manufacturing training hub in Shropshire have been announced, with the aim of supporting ‘2020 learners by 2020’.

The Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT), which is led by a consortium of Classic Motor Cars, Grainger & Worrall, Salop Design & Engineering and training provider In-Comm, will provide a “high-tech environment for individuals to learn from engineering experts on the latest technology”, which will involve working on real life manufacturing situations.  

Supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, work will start on fitting out the 36,000 sq ft building on the Stanmore Industrial Estate in January 2017, with plans in place to create dedicated fabrication, foundry, lathe, metrology, milling, robotics and vehicle trimming sections, as well as a specialist CNC Zone and spray booth/mixing capabilities.

There will also be an auditorium lecture theatre, bespoke learning environments, five vehicle ramps and a rolling road test facility.

It will look to support 2020 learners between now and 2020 and this will largely involve developing apprentices in advanced manufacturing and engineering, giving employers a strong pool of skills to tap into as they continue to compete globally.

In addition to this, there will also be capacity to work with 400 companies on developing existing manufacturing professionals up to Level 7 qualifications, covering business improvement techniques, team leadership, vehicle body repair and paint, vehicle body building, technical development, quality and continuous improvement.

Matthew Snelson, director of Grainger & Worrall and managing director of the MCMT, said: “We believe the MCMT is critical to closing the skills gap for Shropshire businesses, but we are under no illusions that we will need the rest of local industry, education and training to play their part. This could be through informing how the provision develops, using the services and even offering time and expertise to help with delivering some of the learning.”

He continued: “There are also plenty of opportunities for businesses to sponsor different learning zones or donate equipment and machinery our learners can train on.”

The Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology has received £1.9 million of funding from the Marches LEP to bring the concept into reality, with £1.1 million of private funding already pledged by the consortium. Additional sponsorship and business engagement will look to bring the budget to more than £4 million.

Gareth Jones, managing director of In-Comm, said: “There is a lot of work ahead to equip the centre and build a pipeline of learners who want to be part of something new and exciting.

“There is a lot of engagement planned with Shropshire schools and colleges to get young people thinking about engineering and manufacturing as a career and, it is important to stress, that the MCMT is open to all employers in the area.

The MCMT, will offer office-based courses from 1 April 2017, is one of three Advanced Manufacturing Hubs which are being funded by the Local Growth Fund via the Marches LEP.  

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