A new £300,000 training academy has been officially opened in Shrewsbury today to boost the County’s ability to develop the engineers of the future.
In-Comm has joined forces with metal pressing and assembly specialist Salop Design & Engineering Ltd to create the 10,000 sq ft facility, which will support up to 60 apprentices every year and provide a host of specialist training opportunities for local employers.
The project has taken just two months to build at Salop’s Brixton Way factory, with the dedicated space now equipped with modern lathes, milling centres, surface grinders, welding bays and modern teaching areas.
A new 10-seat CAD training room was also unveiled and announced as ‘The Dickie Homden Design Suite’, in honour of the founder of Salop Design and Engineering.
“Shropshire is crying out for more dedicated industry-led provision in order to support its resurgent manufacturing base…we’re hoping our Academy will start to address this skills gap,” explained Gareth Jones, managing director of In-Comm Training & Business Services.
“Our relationship with Salop Design dates back more than forty years, which in that time we have helped developed apprentices and worked together on promoting UK manufacturing to young people.”
He continued: “We knew we wanted to establish a presence in Shropshire and the management at Salop said they would be happy to dedicate some space inside their factory to make it happen.
“Together, we have created a world class training facility that combines expert teaching, access to new machinery/design capabilities and the opportunity for apprentices to witness theory being applied on live manufacturing projects.”
In-Comm Training Academy Shrewsbury (ITAS) will provide intermediate, advanced and higher apprenticeships to 16-24 year-olds looking to carve careers in fabrication and welding, maintenance, production, quality, toolmaking and precision engineering.
Initially, there will be around 60 industrial places available, with plans already in place to increase this figure to 100 by 2018.
At the same time, ITAS is also looking to offer apprenticeships in administration, customer service and business management.
Jones continued: “Interest in what we are offering has been huge, with eight employers already signed up to train their young people at our Academy. This includes Mail Solutions and Bill Carr Precision Engineering.
“However, developing young people is just one aspect of what we do. We’re also going to be offering companies the chance to tap into training on continuous improvement, quality, technical development and safety.
“Going forward we want to create a Shropshire Industrial Partnership, where local employers can shape the type of training we provide. There’s no point trying to second guess what our manufacturers want, let’s get them on board and hear exactly what support they would like.”
Christopher Greenough, director at Salop Design and Engineering, added his support: “We have always been committed to enhancing the learning experience of our own staff and the pace we are expanding means there is now an even greater need to be able to bring new people through to bolster our current workforce and help us achieve even more.
“Having the Academy on our doorstep means our apprentices aren’t travelling 50 miles to get the learning they require, whilst we have easy access to fantastic training facilities that other members of our staff can use.
“Importantly, we are doing our bit to help UK manufacturing bridge the skills gap. Apprenticeships are a key part of this – learning while earning.”
Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski was given the honour of officially opening the In-Coming Training Academy Shrewsbury in front of 70 people today.
He was given a guided tour of the facility and also chatted to the trainers delivering the courses and some of the first apprentices due to start next week.
“It is always encouraging to hear that businesses themselves are looking at innovative ways of training the next generation,” added Daniel Kawczynski.
He concluded: “I have known about Salop Design & Engineering for many years, as it has been at the forefront of manufacturing in the UK and a key local employer for constituents.
“With the current revival of engineering and manufacturing, the firm has recognised the value of high quality training schemes which are instrumental in plugging the skills gap. I am truly confident that the In-Comm Training Academy in Shrewsbury will be a success.”