Kirklees College officially unveiled its Process Manufacturing Centre (PMC) last week with more than 60 project partners, local MPs, apprentices and its main funder, Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) all in attendance.
Described as a ‘boost’ to the region by Northern Powerhouse Minister, Andrew Percy, the Process Manufacturing Centre was awarded £3.1m capital funding through the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal – a £1bn package of government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.
This was supplemented by funds from local and national businesses, and donations in the form of plant, services and equipment, making the total value of the centre around £5m.
Minister Percy commented: “The centre will enhance Leeds City Region’s reputation as a hub for manufacturing and will give students the best training possible to get a job in the industry.”
More than 60 partner organisations from industry have made contributions and pledges to a value of some £700,000.
The centre has a fully operational process manufacturing batch plant (2,000 litre) with control room, remote tank farm and a semi-automatic packaging line, providing students and apprentices with a learning experience in a real process manufacturing environment. This is supplemented by four classrooms, an IT suite and learning resource centre.
The new centre has seen the college develop its curriculum in line with industry demands, both regionally and nationally, and selected by the National Skills Academy Food and Drink (NSAFD) to as a national provider for two Trailblazer Apprenticeships.
These new apprenticeships – Food and Drink Maintenance Engineer, and Process Operations – are two of the first of the new ‘standards’ to be launched under the reforms announced by government to achieve more employer-focused programmes of training.
The college is also providing these apprenticeships for other key sectors, including pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The college provides apprenticeships in Laboratory Technicians and Supply Chain Management, working in collaboration with the college’s science and engineering departments, and covering all elements of the process industry’s needs.
The centre currently has 70 apprentices, and expects the figure to rise to 300 over the coming years.
Acting principal of Kirklees College, June Durrant explained: “We’ve worked very closely with a number of businesses in this industry to make sure we get the facilities and the training offer just right.
“We don’t see this as the end of the project, but as a continuing partnership where we can be flexible in our offer, work with specialist businesses to shape the delivery of training and apprenticeships.
The centre will be open for prospective students and apprentices, along with the college’s other centres on Saturday November 12, 10.30-12.30pm.
Businesses interested in getting involved with the centre can contact the process manufacturing team:
Chair of the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership Roger Marsh OBE commented: “When we first engaged with the College about this project, we could see the extraordinary potential this Centre has to address some of the skills challenges we face in our City Region’s manufacturing and engineering sectors.
“Bringing together private sector investment in the form of their technology, knowledge and machinery with the fantastic new learning environment funded by the LEP and College, this is a ground breaking initiative. The Kirklees College Process Manufacturing Centre positions Leeds City Region as a polestar for public and private sector collaboration in the North and will help confront our skills challenges and create future career opportunities for our City Region’s young people.”