Published: June 28th, 2016
Four skills-focused projects in the Marches have secured a share of £461,000 of Marches Growth Deal funding.
Two projects in Herefordshire and two in Shropshire are aiming to help address challenges faced by employers operating in industry sectors including agriculture, engineering and manufacturing.
Chairman of the Marches LEP Skills Board, Professor Ian Oakes, said the most significant issue identified by employers as being critical to future growth is ‘having a workforce with the right skills’ .
"There is an urgent need to align employers’ needs with education provision. The recipients of the Marches Growth Deal Skills Capital funding have been selected because they do exactly that – they’ve identified areas of training which are essential if the needs of local, regional and national employers are to be met.
"I’m very much looking forward to witnessing the impact this funding will have on the Marches region," he added.
Hereford and Ludlow College, has received funding worth £197,400 which will allow it to invest in specialist high value equipment to support agricultural engineering, agriculture, general engineering and new apprenticeships in poultry and cider fruit growing.
Principal and Chief Executive of the College, Ian Peake,said:
"The equipment we’re investing in thanks to this funding will make an important contribution to the continued development of the College’s existing specialist facilities.
"We believe it will prove highly attractive to employers and apprentices, which in turn will stimulate significant growth in skills development; the further development of advanced and higher apprenticeships; and continued development of bespoke programmes to meet employer demand."
Herefordshire Group Training Association Ltd has received funding of £158,200 which will be used to invest in specialist high value equipment at Herefordshire’s Centre of Vocational Excellence for Engineering.
This will enable an increase in the number of available Advanced Apprenticeships at Level 3 as well as address qualifications in areas including programmable logic controllers, fluid power hydraulics, 3D Computer Aided Design, refrigeration and metal cutting processes.
Chief executive Duane Sanger added:
"The purpose of the Centre of Vocational Excellence is to strengthen manufacturing by ensuring an adequate supply of engineers with essential Level 3 skills and above in Engineering Design, Manufacture and Maintenance.
"The additional and more appropriate equipment that this funding has contributed to will support 91 Advanced Engineering Apprenticeships, whilst 267 existing mature employees will receive training towards advanced level qualifications with a further 40 employers engaged in high level training."
Derwen College, near Oswestry, has received funding worth £56,000 that will allow it to develop farm buildings which have been redundant since closing during the foot and mouth crisis fifteen years ago. These buildings require a significant amount of work to bring them up to a standard suitable for current college use, but once redeveloped, they will be used to meet the increased demand for Land Based Studies.
Louise Keevil Director of Corporate Services, said:
"With a rise in awareness around issues of environmental sustainability, Derwen College has enjoyed a significant increase in interest for our range of land based courses. This funding, therefore, will allow us to re-utilise the currently redundant buildings to promote new vocational courses focused primarily on the role of reuse and recycling in environmental sustainability."
SBC Training in Shrewsbury, meanwhile, has received £50,000 which is being used to improve facilities for training within the advanced manufacturing and engineering sectors. The investment will cover workplace relevant machinery, class-room based training equipment and bespoke courseware.
Colin Thaw, Operations Director at SBC Training, added:
"Demand for training in advanced engineering continues to be incredibly high and this funding will allow us to provide apprentices with the very latest, state-of-the-art machinery which they need to be familiar with in order to thrive in the workplace.
"In order to keep engineering apprenticeships an attractive training option for young people we need to ensure we provide them with a cutting-edge learning experience and this equipment is a vital part of that experience."
For more information on how the Marches LEP is supporting employers, visit our dedicated Employer Skills Search website at the Marches Growth Hub