More than £36 million is being invested at the MTC near Coventry to create a training centre for "super apprentices" to help bridge the engineering skills gap.
The new centre will be built on vacant land at the Manufacturing Technology Centre, at Ansty Park near Coventry, as part of a wider effort to plug shortages in key manufacturing skills, such as automation, programming and additive layer manufacturing.
The Government is investing £18 million into the scheme, match funded with £18 million from industry.
The project is akin to the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing’s Training Centre, which took its first intake of 150 apprentices on October 7.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said he believed the investment would yield a valuable return in the long-term.
Before leaving on a trade mission to Russia with 25 British firms, he said: “Engineering has a vital role to play in the future of UK industry. It is important that we act now to ensure businesses have access to the skills they require to enable them to grow.
“We cannot do this alone so I am calling on employers and education professionals to get involved and inspire the next generation of engineers.”
The new training centre will provide an advanced apprenticeship programme, where apprentices will learn about technology in areas such as intelligent automation, additive layer manufacture, laser machining and different types of welding.
The recruits will be able to test and develop their skills in sponsored placements, including the opportunity to undertake international assignments.
On completion of the programme, the apprentices will be registered as incorporated engineers and will have the potential to complete an engineering degree.
MTC’s chief executive Clive Hickman said the training centre is part of an ambitious £90 million expansion plan for the MTC and marks the beginning of a strategy to establish cultural changes in developing the skills and processes needed for future manufacturing in the UK.
Mr Hickman, who sits on several committes to advise on manufacturing technology and policy, added: “The new elite training centre will create vital skills, developing the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technicians. The skills shortage has been an ongoing issue for manufacturing. Many small and medium-sized companies simply cannot afford the four year investment costs of apprentices, and fully skilled workers are attracted by the larger players – often at salaries that smaller companies simply can’t match.
“Our plan is help SMEs by offering apprenticeships which are cost-effective and provide tangible value from day one.”