Jake Berry, the Government’s secretary for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, visited the £4 million Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT) to see how it can help to improve skills in the local workforce.
Located at the Stanmore Industrial Estate in Bridgnorth, just steps away from CMC’s workshops, the MCMT is supported by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership and led by a consortium of companies, including CMC, Grainger & Worrall, Salop Design & Engineering and training provider In-Comm.
The centre took in its first apprentices last week and will provide a high-tech environment for young people to learn from engineering experts on the latest technology and develop the skills required for real life manufacturing situations.
Mr Berry was given a guided tour of the MCMT, looking at the dedicated fabrication, lathe, metrology, milling, robotics and vehicle trimming sections, a specialist CNC Zone with more than £1 million of machines donated by Engineering Technology Group.
He told the Shropshire Star: “I was particularly keen to visit this facility, not least because Philip Dunne has been such a big advocate of it.
“As we move towards an industrial strategy locally here it’s vital that we build on skills. Businesses wherever you go in the country need a high skills base.
“If you live in Shropshire I want people to know the choice isn’t going to university and going somewhere else, sending the best and brightest to the large cities. There are highly paid, highly skilled jobs through the route of occupational training available here.
“The Government has something called the catapult programme similar to this, but it tends to be larger businesses. This is the first time I have seen it done with smaller SMEs.
“The apprenticeship here is something we can look at doing across the rest of the country.
“Where the MCMT leads, the rest of the country should look to follow.”
Mr Berry also met with the first group of apprentices to talk about their initial experiences, their passion for engineering and manufacturing and how the centre will help them in their careers.
He then visited CMC’s workshops and spent time learning about the company’s involvement with the MCMT and the skills required to bring a classic car back to life.
Nigel Woodward, Managing Director at CMC, said: "“I see the Marches Centre for Manufacturing and Technology as absolutely key to the future of not only our business but of engineering and manufacturing in this area. For too long SME’s have either relied on government or indeed had no plan at all when it came to training the next generations of engineers and technicians. Our investment in the MCMT marks a step change for our industry and one that I hope other classic specialists will follow.”
The MCMT has already received significant support from industry partners, who are donating equipment or providing their expertise to learners and companies accessing the centre.
These include ABB Robotics, Engineering Technology Group, FBC Manby Bowdler, Filtermist, Hexagon Metrology, Mechatronics and Zwick Roell.
Photos courtesy of Gavin Dickson.