Industry urged to make most of £3m training hub

The newly appointed managing director of the Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology training hub has challenged employers to help him create a ‘Marches Engineering Powerhouse’.

Based in Birdgnorth (Shropshire), the 36,000 sqft Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT) was unveiled in December 2016 and has the ambitious target of reaching and training ‘2,020 learners by 2020’.

Its managing director, Matt Snelson believes that industry has to stop ‘cannibalising’ the skills pool and instead invest in developing the next-generation of engineers to ensure the local gap is bridged.

Matt Snelson, managing director, Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT) - training
Matt Snelson, managing director, Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT).

He explained: “We have a fantastic opportunity to create an ‘Engineering Powerhouse’ in the Marches, but we can’t do it on our own.

“The Marches LEP has listened to our requests for an employer-led solution to close the skills gap and now it’s time for business leaders to step forward and shape the offer so that we can equip young people and existing employees with the skills they need to deliver an immediate positive impact for their companies.”

He continued: “We want manufacturers to tell us the skills they require, we want them to invest in apprentices and use the MCMT to train them and, importantly, we need them to dig deep and support us with sponsorship.

“This could be by funding a particular zone for the year, it could be a donation towards the learning provision or it could be through asking one of their experts to provide some specialist training.”

Led by a consortium that includes partners Grainger & Worrall, Classic Motor Cars, Salop Design & Engineering and In-Comm Training, the MCMT was awarded £1.9m of Growth Deal funding from the Marches LEP to bring the concept into reality, with £1.1m of private funding already pledged by the consortium.

Its vision to support 2,020 learners between now and 2020 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.

Snelson concluded: “What will success look like in 2017? Success will be launching MCMT with a new floor, build complete and paid for, all sponsors in place and a queue of learners wanting to enter the engineering profession.”