One of the Marches largest training facilities has received the seal of approval from the Government’s Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse.
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Jake Berry MP visited the £4m Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology (MCMT) to view how an employer-led solution to bridging the skills gap is promising to boost competitiveness within the region’s advanced manufacturing sector.
He praised the efforts of the Marches LEP and consortium partners Classic Motor Cars, Grainger & Worrall, Salop Design & Engineering and training provider In-Comm for bringing this ambitious vision to reality and offering a potential blueprint for other areas to follow.
MCMT, which has received £1.9m of Government Growth Deal funding via the Marches LEP and financial support from the European Regional Development Fund and Shropshire Council, is promising to deliver ‘2020 learners by 2020’ through a combination of Apprenticeships and specialist training to upskill existing staff.
The 36,000 sq ft hub – located on the Stanmore Industrial Estate in Bridgnorth – will provide a high-tech environment for individuals to learn from engineering experts on th
e latest technology, all geared towards making them more industry-ready when they leave.
Jake Berry, Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse, said: "I was delighted to be one of the first to visit the Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology today to see this remarkable training facility.
"Made possible with government funding, MCMT is a fantastic example of the Marches LEP, local employers and a training provider working together to equip young people with the real life skills they will need to become the engineers of the future."
Mr Berry received a guided tour of the MCMT during his visit, taking in dedicated fabrication, lathe, metrology, milling, robotics and vehicle trimming sections, not to mention a specialist CNC Zone with more than £1m of machines donated by Engineering Technology Group.
He also met with the first cohort of apprentices to talk about their initial experiences, their passion for engineering and manufacturing and how the centre will help them in their careers.
Matthew Snelson, Managing Director of the Marches Centre of Manufacturing and Technology, continued: "We are doing something completely different here to address a real challenge for our local businesses and the regional economy.
"Four companies have come together and put their money where their collective mouths are and, with the backing of Government and the Marches LEP, we have developed what we believe is a world class training centre that will address both the skills and the competency gaps facing industry."
Graham Wynn, Chairman of the Marches LEP, said: "Our manufacturing businesses are often major employers with substantial supply chains. It is important for the vitality of the Marches economy that the manufacturing and engineering sector is able to thrive and that can only happen if our workforce is equipped with the right skills to meet employer demand.
"This Growth Deal project is a great example of the LEP leading a hands-on business process to identify what employers need and working with them to design a solution. The consortium behind MCMT is driving this project and we were delighted the Minister had a chance to meet then and the new cohort of apprentices on site today."
Matthew Snelson added: "The response from local employers has been great so far, with 12 companies already part of our first recruitment drive and a further 30 in the pipeline for future cohorts.
"It was great to show the Minister around, talk him through our vision and what we are looking to achieve. He’s welcome to come back for our official launch on November 10th, along with hopefully a further 200 guests all keen to get involved."
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.