Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, met apprentices, employers and business leaders when she officially opened the new EEF Technology Hub in Aston, Birmingham, last week.
The EEF Technology Hub has reportedly been designed and equipped to replicate real-life modern engineering and manufacturing workplaces, and will be responsible for delivering the vital technical skills UK manufacturers are calling out for.
It is the result of an ambitious multi-million-pound expansion and forms a second site to EEF’s initial advanced technology training centre – also in Aston – which opened in 2014.
The opening of the EEF Technology Hub will see the number of apprentices trained at the centre increase to more than 400 a year. The new facility boasts 280 IT stations, £1.3m-worth of equipment and tools, and has a wide range of areas devoted to developing technological skills, including robotics, electronics and rapid prototyping.
The Princess Royal was shown around the centre by EEF’s CEO, Terry Scuoler, and Neil Withey, EEF’s director of training. The tour included the centre’s industry standard CAD (computer aided design) suite, lean training room and industry standard tool room – believed to be one of only a handful among UK training centres.
During her visit, The Princess Royal met several first-year apprentices who talked to her about their apprenticeships, the skills they are learning and their future career ambitions. Among these was Hannah Clarke, a first year apprentice at Ishida, and Jack England, a first year apprentice at UTC Aerospace, who demonstrated the latest CAD packages being used by apprentices and how 3D printing is now being used in design.
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Earlier, guests heard from Emily James, an award-winning manufacturing operations apprentice at Ishida, who talked about the important role her school had to play in encouraging her to pursue her career ambitions.
She said that particular attention was paid to supporting girls taking STEM subjects, which are key for those looking for a future in engineering or manufacturing. Seeing articles and case studies of other female apprentices in industry also motivated her and now, with her employer’s backing, she enjoys helping to inspire other young women too.
The new EEF Technology Hub brings its total investment into the Aston apprentice training centre to £12m. The world-class facilities aim to equip apprentices for a sustainable and exciting career in modern industry with the centre training apprentices on behalf of more than 90 different organisations and companies. This latest development hope keep it at the forefront of new manufacturing and engineering technologies.
CEO of EEF, Terry Scuoler commented: “This additional investment into our purpose-built technology training centre in the Midlands – the very heartland of UK manufacturing – demonstrates our commitment to industry and our support for first-class apprenticeship opportunities.
“The facilities we offer are designed to fully equip talented young people for the high demands of a challenging and rewarding career in modern manufacturing. This is further underscored by the high calibre of employers we work with, who trust us to train their apprentices and provide them with the valuable skills and technical prowess that will drive business innovation and growth.”
Hannah Clarke, first year apprentice at Ishida, said: “Meeting The Princess Royal was a great honour. I really enjoyed demonstrating some of the skills I’ve learnt as an apprentice and the cutting-edge technology we use in modern manufacturing today.
“So much emphasis is still put on going to university, but what today has hopefully shown is that apprenticeships offer young people an equally valid route into an interesting and rewarding long-term career. Being an apprentice is hard work and demanding, but it’s really worthwhile knowing that I’m learning skills that employers really value.”