EEF yesterday welcomed David Gauke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, at its advanced technology training centre in Aston, Birmingham.
The visit marked the official launch of the centre’s new Higher Education offering and allowed the Treasury Chief Secretary to see how work is progressing on its ambitious multi-million pound expansion.
Opened in 2014, EEF recently invested a further £5m into the centre and, as a result, work is now nearing completion on a second new site – the Technology Hub – which is expected to increase the number of apprentices trained at the centre to more than 400 a year when fully operational.
As part of this rapid growth, EEF has also expanded its range of courses to include HNCs and HNDs for the first time.
The organisation feels that this Higher Education offering is a significant step forward in helping the manufacturing sector to battle a skills shortage and means that apprentices and students at the centre can now achieve the highest qualification in engineering, bar a full degree.
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The Chief Secretary met some of EEF’s first intake of Higher Education students to hear about their career ambitions and future plans, and toured the new Technology Hub, which has been designed and equipped to replicate real-life modern engineering and manufacturing workplaces.
Once complete, the new Technology Hub will boast 280 IT stations and £1.3m of equipment and tools.
In total, EEF has invested £11m into the centre which it hopes will keep it at the forefront of new manufacturing and engineering technologies, ensuring that apprentices continue to learn both traditional and the most cutting-edge techniques.
This will fully equip them for a sustainable and exciting career in modern industry, which is about to undergo a radical transformation as a result of rapid advances in technology.
Staff numbers at the training centre have also rocketed from 38 in 2014 to 102 in 2016 and the centre now trains apprentices on behalf of 93 different organisations, including Severn Trent Water, Jaguar Landrover and Ibstock Brick.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke commented: “EEF’s investment in its Birmingham apprentices will equip workers with the cutting-edge skills needed to keep the UK’s manufacturing sector world-class.
“Apprentices are vital to improve productivity so that companies – and the economy – can grow and prosper. That is why we are creating 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020 and introducing the apprenticeship levy.
Director of training at EEF, Neil Withey noted: “We have been on a long journey in a very short space of time, but we’re delighted with the impact we are having on apprentices and skills for our sector.
“The growth we have achieved since first opening our doors in 2014 has been incredible. It demonstrates the real need for quality apprenticeships and training to help meet employers’ strong demands for skills and talented apprentices.”