The £4m Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT) officially opened in Shropshire last week. The centre, which is run by Grainger & Worrall, In-Comm Training, Classic Motor Cars and Salop Design & Engineering, provides specialised training for apprentice engineers in areas such as machining, mechatronics and maintenance.
Speaking to a crowd of 250 visitors at the 3,300m2 facility, managing director Matthew Snelson called for more firms to work together to nurture new talent. “If we continue to sit back and wait for others to solve the skills gap then we’re going to fall short of where we need to be in terms of skills and productivity in UK manufacturing,” he said.
“We need to flood the market with new talent and ensure there are enough individuals to satisfy the growth expectations of industry,” he added. “You only have to look at the West Midlands to see how firms are being held back due to a lack of key skills, both at the new-recruit stage and with their existing workforces.”
The MCMT is equipped with more than £2m worth of state-of-the-art equipment, including dedicated fabrication, foundry, lathe, metrology, milling, robotics and vehicle trimming sections. Engineering experts train apprentices using the latest technology, giving trainees the chance to apply their new skills in “real life” manufacturing situations.
“Employers know best the skills issues they face and the employment needs of their workforces,” said Graham Wynn OBE, chairman of the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership, which invested £1.9m in the centre. “The MCMT is a fantastic example of a private-sector led project to develop the next generation of engineers working within the Midlands Engine.”
The training hub, housed in a former storage facility on an industrial estate, contains classrooms, a “CNC zone” with three- and five-axis machines and a 200-seat auditorium. Eight local employers are already sending trainees to the centre, where they will gain experience for 18 months.
The European Regional Development Fund and industry backers FBC Manby Bowdler, Filtermist, Halter, Hexagon Metrology, Mastercam, Mechatronics and Zwick Roell Group also invested in the MCMT.
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