£6m network of Technical Academies to address skills gap

Leading independent machine tool supplier, the Engineering Technology Group has announced a commitment to develop a UK-wide network of Technical Academies in an effort to tackle the country’s escalating skills shortage.

Each of the 15 Technical Academies will feature ETG-supplied machines, supported by technical partner equipment and software - image courtesy of Engineering Technology Group.
Each of the 15 Technical Academies will feature ETG-supplied machines, supported by technical partner equipment and software – image courtesy of Engineering Technology Group.

The announcement was made by Martin Doyle, managing director of the Engineering Technology Group (ETG), at the launch of its first Technical Academy at Norton Motorcycles in Castle Donington today (20 July).

The 250 sqm facility features a range of Bridgeport Hardinge, Quaser, Chiron and Nakamura CNC machines, and is open to companies looking to train their staff in advanced manufacturing, alongside ETG customers and technical partners looking to demonstrate their technology on live projects.

The centre will also act as a new prototyping cell for Norton where it can quickly trial the manufacture of new parts for its range of globally-renowned British-built bikes.

Doyle’s vision is to create a further 14 such centres, each of which will be located on the site of a strategic manufacturing partner. The facilities aim to provide companies with the opportunity to upskill their staff on the latest CNC machine tools and precision technology, with several providing a full apprenticeship curriculum.

Each centre will also provide demonstration/showroom facilities and reflect the manufacturing expertise required by the region they are based in, ensuring firms get access to skills that will help them grow and individuals receive training that will help secure them employment.

They have been developed in collaboration with 14 like-minded technical partners, including: Blum, Bott, Cimco, Filtermist, Formation, Guhring, Halter, Houghton, Hyfore, LNS, Mastercam, Nikken, and WNT.

All of the training set to be provided by In-Comm Training, which recently received an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating across all areas of its business.

Martin Doyle, managing director of the Engineering Technology Group, with Stuart Garner, CEO of Norton Motorcycles - image courtesy of ETG.
Martin Doyle, managing director of the Engineering Technology Group, with Stuart Garner, CEO of Norton Motorcycles – image courtesy of ETG.

Doyle explained: “There is a real need for industry to get to grips with developing the skills of the next generation of engineers and those already working in the sector.

“Put bluntly, the current education platform is broken and not relevant to the world we operate in. Instead of bemoaning our luck and lack of support, we’ve decided to do something about it with the launch of our national network.”

The Technical Academies will be further reinforced by equipment and software from technical partners keen to help bridge the gap, creating what is hoped to be advanced manufacturing cells capable of training young people, existing workers and supporting SMEs with production issues.

CEO of Norton Motorcycles, Stuart Garner commented: “We are very proud of our British heritage and the reputation UK manufacturing carries across the world. However, in order for us to remain competitive we have to take it into our own hands and do something about bridging the skills gap.”

ETG reportedly has agreements in place to shortly launch another six academies in Birmingham, Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury, Warwickshire, Tayside in Scotland and in Ireland. Negotiations are currently underway with partners in Lincolnshire, Northern Ireland, the North East, the South East, the South West and in the Thames Valley.