£3m manufacturing training and development centre outlines vision for bridging the Marches skills gap

Over 2020 learners to be supported by new employer-led advanced manufacturing training and development hub

Detailed plans for a new state-of-the-art training hub in Shropshire were unveiled for the first time yesterday, with the aim of supporting ‘2020 learners by 2020’.

More than 100 local businesses and stakeholders attended the £3m Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT) launch event in Bridgnorth to find out how they can play their role in helping it reverse the region’s skills and competency gaps.

The MCMT, which is led by a consortium of Classic Motor Cars, Grainger & Worrall, Salop Design & Engineering and training provider In-Comm, will provide a high-tech environment for individuals to learn from engineering experts on the latest technology – all geared towards giving them opportunities to apply their new found skills on real life manufacturing situations.

Supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, work will start on fitting out the 36,000 sq ft building on the Stanmore Industrial Estate in January, with exciting 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.

There will also be an auditorium lecture theatre, bespoke learning environments, 5 vehicle ramps and a rolling road test facility.

“This is one of the most exciting developments seen in manufacturing training provision in the area for many years and yesterday gave us the perfect opportunity to communicate our vision to employers, colleges, universities and future learners,” explained Matthew Snelson, Director of Grainger & Worrall and Managing Director of the Centre.

“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 Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology 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 2020 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.

Gareth Jones, Managing Director of In-Comm, added his support: “We will be looking to open our doors for office based courses from April 1st 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.”

Graham Wynn OBE, Chairman of the Marches LEP, 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 yesterday.”

For further information, please visit www.mcmt.co.uk or follow @marchescentre on twitter.

More about the consortium partners…

Classic Motor Cars

Classic Motor Cars was founded in 1993 and has built a reputation for car restoration to world-class standards.

Staffed by a highly experienced team of engineers and technicians, it operates from modern purpose built premises in Bridgnorth.

Some 50 to 60 cars from varied marques, such as Jaguar, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Bugatti, and Lancia, can be found in the workshops every month for general servicing, upgrades, accident repairs, repaints, full restorations and other services.

Grainger & Worrall

Founded in 1946, Grainger & Worrall is the world’s leading total castings solutions provider. The company provides an unrivalled production capability, delivering groundbreaking industry solutions for leading companies, including Bentley, Porsche and Aston Martin.

Working across the automotive, commercial vehicle, motorsport, aerospace and defence sectors, Grainger & Worrall continues to lead the way in technical excellence, renowned worldwide for exceptional quality, service and exceptional innovation.

The firm, which exports 55% of its products overseas, employs 600 people in Bridgnorth and boasts an annual turnover of approximately £50m.

In-Comm Training and Business Services has been offering industry and commerce a wide range of training and business solutions for 34 years.

The Aldridge-based firm has invested more than £700,000 into extending its Black Country and Shrewsbury academies in the last year and will now be able to offer apprenticeships for more than 100 young people annually…a 60% increase on 2016 intake.

The long-term vision is to grow the business to £4.2m by 2020, increasing the workforce to 60 staff across a number of Training Academies in the Midlands.

Established nearly 50 years ago, Salop Design & Engineering Ltd is one of the leading metal pressing and assembly providers in the UK.

The company is based in a 60,000 sq ft facility in Shrewsbury, offering a global client base access to mechanical, progression, hydraulic and transfer presses, up to 1000 tonne.

Recent investment has seen the installation of two state-of-the-art powder coating lines and the launch of its own haulage firm, all designed to increase its ability to provide a one-stop shop for pressing and coating needs.

Salop Design & Engineering is accredited to TS16949 quality standards ensuring it offers world class quality, cost and delivery performance to customers in automotive and beyond. 

About the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership

  • The Local Enterprise Partnership area contributes £12.3bn to the national economy, covers an area of 2,300 sq miles, has a population of 666,700 and is home to more than 29,800 businesses.
  • Bordered by the West Midlands Conurbation to the east and Wales to the west, its key centres of population and employment are the towns of Hereford, Shrewsbury and Telford.A network of 25 smaller market towns and a large rural area make up the rest of the settlement mix.
  • The area boasts some high profile businesses including Mϋller Dairy UK, Doncasters Aerospace, Denso, Capgemini, Ricoh, Cargill, Heineken, Grocontinental, McConnels, Kerry Ingredients, Special Metals, Kingspan and Makita and is a hot spot for home working, the environmental technologies, care sector, creative industries, manufacturing and tourism.
  • Assets like Harper Adams University and its Regional Food Academy, the University of Wolverhampton campus and e-innovation centre at Priorslee, and the Polymer Research Centre in Telford, the Food Enterprise Centre and Environmental Technology Centre at Shrewsbury and the cathedral city of Hereford are all drivers of the local economy.
  • The LEP area is home to some iconic places of interest. The Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, the Shropshire Hills and the Wye Valley Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Offa’s Dyke, the rivers Severn and Wye, and places of national renown including Ludlow and Ross-on-Wye make it a highly popular place to both visit and relocate to.
  • The Marches LEP secured £3m from the Government’s Local Growth Fund for investment in training facilities to increase the level of skills in the workforce and the take-up of apprenticeships.