By Daniel Hunter
The pioneering Manufacturing Technology Centre at Ansty Park in Coventry has unveiled plans for a new £36 million elite training centre.
Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced that the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) would provide £18 million funding for the new facility, to be built on vacant land at the current Manufacturing Technology Centre site on Ansty Park.
This investment will be matched by a further £18 million of industry support to the programme. The centre will provide a significant contribution towards solving the skills shortages which have been prevalent in manufacturingfor many years.
Business Secretary Vince Cable 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 elite training centre at the MTC will be a flagship facility for an advanced apprenticeship programme. Apprentices will learn the latest technology in areas such as intelligent automation, additive layer manufacture, laser machining and welding. They 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. The centre will also support engineering graduates to achieve chartered engineer status and industrial design graduates to develp their entrepreneurial skills. The MTC will provide the manufacturing process expertise and business management support to the industrial design graduates, enabling them to market test their ideas and launch their own products and enterprises.
A spokesman for BIS said, "This facility sets the direction for vocational education in the UK in the future - and we expect to support more proposals for elite training centres of this type."
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.
The MTC opened in 2011 and was founded by the University of Birmingham, Loughborough University, the University of Nottingham and TWI Ltd. The MTC's industrial members include some of the UK's major global manufacturers.
The MTC aims to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and the development of innovative manufacturing solutions, in line with the Government's manufacturing strategy. The MTC is part the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, supported by the Technology Strategy Board.
MTC chief executive Clive Hickman said: "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."
The growth of the Manufacturing Technology Centre has far exceeded expectations, achieving many of its targets five years ahead of schedule. The Centre already has a growing apprenticeship and trainee scheme which will be enhanced by the new facility.
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