College Leads the Way in UK Engineering Training

Following extensive employer-consultation and a robust and highly competitive bidding process, Shrewsbury College - part of the Shrewsbury Colleges Group - has been awarded significant financial investment in engineering facilities, securing its place as a leading training provider of engineers.

The private sector-led Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (Marches LEP) has identified advanced manufacturing engineering as a key investment priority sector within the region, developing and funding a significant ‘hub’ project with local manufacturing employers and training providers. The hub project aims to meet the needs of manufacturing businesses struggling to recruit employees with the suitable engineering skills.

“The West Midlands has seen the UK’s highest growth in advanced manufacturing employment in the past twelve months,” comments Shrewsbury Colleges Group Principal, Lyn Surgeon. “In order to ensure that the region remains at the forefront of this developing sector, it is critical that Shrewsbury College retains its leading position in engineering training.”

Graham Wynn, Chairman of the Marches LEP, said” “Additional capital investment is needed to support the manufacturing sector to develop their skills base, equipping them to maximise future opportunities.

“This hub will be one of three created across the Marches following our call for employers to work with training providers to develop programmes which really address the skills issues facing our manufacturing and engineering businesses.”

The LEP investment, combined with investment from Shrewsbury College, amounts to in excess of £600,000. The project has cemented the relationship between Shrewsbury Colleges Group, Staffordshire University, Caterpillar and Festo, which will be collectively known as the Shropshire Advanced Manufacturing Skills Hub.

“We were delighted to be informed that we have been awarded this substantial sum,” adds Andrew Lee, Curriculum Leader in Engineering and the driving force behind the bid. “It allows us to significantly extend our investment in state of the art equipment to suitably train the engineers of tomorrow.

“Students will be able to work in an entirely new product design and prototype suite running the latest 3D CAD software, new CNC Mills, CNC Press Brake, the latest welders capable of processes such as Flux Cored, Hydraulic, Pneumatic, Mechatronic and Electronic equipment.”

This investment puts the College in the unique position of being able to offer a range of courses from basic introductory levels through to degrees, apprenticeships and bespoke training to meet individual company needs.

Lucy Francis of Caterpillar, Shrewsbury adds: “Shrewsbury College has a strong focus on educating and training students to fully prepare them for industry. Their approach has always been flexible with an openness to new ideas. In turn, we at Caterpillar also aim to support the learners within Shrewsbury College by encouraging supervised access/visibility to specialist equipment that educational institutions are not able to supply.

“This new project allows the College to offer the next generation of students a very impressive level of in-house learning which will ensure they enter the employment market with the skills required to further both the industry and themselves.”

About the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership

The Marches is a dynamic business region where entrepreneurs flourish alongside global players. The Marches Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is working towards accelerating growth for the benefit of the whole business community and the people who live and work here too.

The Marches region, which includes Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, covers an area of 2,300 sq miles and has a growing population of 630,000.

It boasts the largest supply of serviced, ready-to-go land in the West Midlands and is home to 28,000 businesses.

Notable business names that have chosen the Marches include: BAE Defence Systems; GKN; Westons; Grainger & Worrall; Stadco; Caterpillar; Mϋller Dairy UK, Doncasters Aerospace, Denso, Capgemini, Ricoh, Cargill, Heineken, Grocontinental, McConnels, Kerry Ingredients, Special Metals, Kingspan and Makita.

The key priority sectors within the Marches LEP area are:

  • Advanced manufacturing and engineering which account for more than 14.1% of all employment across the Marches and which employs 36,700 people
  • Agri-food which in 2011 was worth more than £1.9 billion to the region, employing at least 9,000 people
  • Automotive which employs 3,400 people and benefits from the availability of quality sites; its proximity to the M54 which links to the rest of the national motorway network; and the nearby i54 site (home to Jaguar Land Rover’s new engine plant)
  • Security and defence which can claim at least 200 businesses in Herefordshire alone and across the region, at least 2,600 people are employed in this sector. The Marches also boasts the UK’s only defence and security enterprise zone (see below)

The Marches is also home to a number of very notable academic and research assets: Harper Adams University’s Precision Farming Engineering Centre and the University of Wolverhampton campus and e-innovation centre at Priorslee. Additionally, Shrewsbury recently welcomed it first students to University Centre Shrewsbury, further boosting the academic strength of the region.

  • Growth Deals are awarded to LEPs through a competitive bidding process to fund the delivery of projects to boost the local economy.
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