£3m training & development lab to bridge skills gap

Posted on 8 Dec 2016 by Fred Tongue

A new employer led training and development hub has been announced for the Shropshire area, with the main aim of supporting 2,020 learners by 2020.

The launch event for the £3m Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT) was attended by more than 100 local Shropshire businesses to help understand how they can play their part in addressing the skills and competency gap in the region.

The MCMT is led by a consortium of Classic Motor Cars, Grainger & Worral, Salop Design & Engineering and training provider In-Comm. The centre will provide a high-tech environment for individuals to learn from experts in engineering and provide access and training with the latest technology with the overall goal to give opportunities to practice the new skill in real life manufacturing scenarios.

Supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, work will start on fitting out the 36,000 sqft building on the Stanmore Industrial Estate in January, with plans in place to create dedicated fabrication, foundry, lathe, metrology, milling, robotics and vehicle trimming sections, as well as a specialist CNC Zone and spray booth/mixing capabilities.

The facility will also have an auditorium lecture theatre, learning environments, a rolling road test facility and five vehicle ramps.

Director of Grainger & Worrall and managing director of the MCMT, Matthew Snelson explained: “We believe the MCMT is critical to closing the skills gap for Shropshire businesses, but we are under no illusions that we will need the rest of local industry, education and training to play their part. This could be through informing how the provision develops, using the services and even offering time and expertise to help with delivering some of the learning.”

He continued: “There are also plenty of opportunities for businesses to sponsor different learning zones or donate equipment and machinery our learners can train on.”

The MCMT has received £1.9m of funding from the Marches LEP to bring the concept into reality, with £1.1m of private funding already pledged by the consortium. Additional sponsorship and business engagement will look to bring the budget to over £4m.

It will look to support 2,020 learners between now and 2020 and this 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.

Managing director of In-Comm, Gareth Jones added: “We will be looking to open our doors for office based courses from April 1 and full engineering courses from August 2017. There is a lot of work ahead to equip the centre and build a pipeline of learners who want to be part of something new and exciting.

“There is a lot of engagement planned with Shropshire schools and colleges to get young people thinking about engineering and manufacturing as a career and, it is important to stress, that the MCMT is open to all employers in the area. It is the clearest sign yet of the desire to reshore training provision so that local needs are met and there is no doubt we will become an important asset when looking to attract inward investment into the Marches.”

Chairman of the Marches LEP, Graham Wynn OBE said: “Plugging the skills gaps that currently exist will mean that businesses here will be able to grow and thrive. That means more investment and more jobs, which can only have a positive impact on the economic prosperity of our county.

“The MCMT is one of three Advanced Manufacturing Hubs which are being funded by the Local Growth Fund via the Marches LEP and we’re delighted to see this milestone reached.”