A £4m high-tech training hub has been officially opened today (10 November), with bosses urging other manufacturers to step forward to avoid a skill drain caused by the uncertainty of Brexit.
The Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT) was unveiled in front of 250 people with many delegates receiving their first glimpse of the 36,000 sqft facility on the Stanmore Industrial Estate in Bridgnorth.
The training hub is run by a consortium of Classic Motor Cars, Grainger & Worrall, In-Comm Training and Salop Design & Engineering.
Managing director, Matthew Snelson, used the event to issue a rallying call for more firms to work together in a bid to stop “cannibalising” the pool of industry talent in the UK.
He believes the MCMT offers a perfect blueprint for other companies to follow after it secured £1.9m of government Growth Deal funding via the Marches LEP and backing from Shropshire Council to create specialist training opportunities for apprentices and existing workers.
Snelson explained: “If we continue to sit back and wait for others to solve the skills gap, then we’re going to fall short of where we need to be in terms of skills and productivity in UK manufacturing.”
“We need to flood the market with new talent and ensure there are enough individuals to satisfy the growth expectations of industry. You only have to look at the West Midlands to see how firms are being held back due to a lack of key skills, both at the new recruits stage and with their existing workforces.”
He continued: “We have an urgent need for more skilled labour and that is where we come in by creating a dedicated centre that will deliver more than ‘2020 learning opportunities by 2020’.
“This didn’t happen overnight. The four companies involved hatched the plan more than eighteen months ago and it was only through their own investment and the backing of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and other partners that the vision has turned into reality.”
An old storage facility for Grainger & Worrall has been transformed into the modern centre, which provides a high-tech environment for individuals to learn from engineering experts on the latest technology – all geared towards giving them opportunities to apply their new found skills on real life manufacturing situations.
It is equipped with more than £2m of cutting-edge equipment, including dedicated fabrication, foundry, lathe, metrology, milling, robotics and vehicle trimming sections.
There is also a 200-seat auditorium, smaller break-out classrooms and a CNC Zone that is full of 3-axis and 5-axis machines donated by the Engineering Technology Group (ETG).