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£36m training centre aims to help plug the skills gap

12 November, 2013

Plans have been announced to build a £36m elite training centre at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry, with the aim of tackling some of the skills shortages facing the UK manufacturing sector. The cost will be split between industry and the government.

The training centre will be a flagship for an advanced apprenticeship programme. Apprentices will learn the latest technologies in areas such as intelligent automation, additive layer manufacturing, laser machining and welding. They will be able to develop their skills in sponsored placements, and will have the opportunity to undertake international assignments.

When the apprentices complete the programme, they will be registered as incorporated engineers and will have the potential to complete an engineering degree. The centre will also help engineering graduates to achieve chartered engineer status and industrial design graduates to develop their entrepreneurial skills.

“The new elite training centre will create vital skills, developing the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technicians,” says MTC chief executive, Clive Hickman. “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 the 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 training centre is part of a £90m expansion plan for the MTC, which is part the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and is intended to provide a competitive environment to bridge the gap between university-based research and innovative manufacturing. The Centre already has a growing apprenticeship and trainee scheme which will be enhanced by the new facility.

Engineering the future: an artist's impression of the planned manufacturing training centre

“Engineering has a vital role to play in the future of UK industry,” says business secretary, Vince Cable. “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 training centre is intended to set the future direction for vocational education in the UK and the government expects to support more centres of this type elsewhere in the UK.

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