The Black Country LEP has approved £7.6m funding for the flagship Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS) which will open for business in August 2017. The funding has been allocated through the LEP’s Growth Deal which is transforming the Black Country.
The Elite Centre will function as an employer-led training facility for the Black Country, designed to improve productivity and growth in the high value manufacturing (HVM) sector. The Black Country LEP has been instrumental in ensuring the project will deliver provision that doesn’t currently exist in the Black Country.
The LEP has brought together partners from the HVM sector and education including the University of Wolverhampton, Dudley College, Confederation of British Metalforming, Cast Metals Federation and the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers. The partners are investing an additional £4.15m into the Centre bringing the total project value to £11.75m.
The Elite Centre will provide specialist training in Toolmaking; Foundry; Patternmaking; Metalforming / Forging; Advanced CNC; Manufacturing Management, Leadership and Project Management. These skills underpin HVM performance, productivity and growth and were identified as current barriers to growth by the Black Country Skills Factory following extensive consultation with businesses across the Black Country. The training will be delivered through both Apprenticeships and short courses.
The Elite Centre will be established as a non-profit making organisation governed by partners and with an industry-led board of directors.
The project development will be led by the University of Wolverhampton. The Elite Centre will follow a ‘hub and spoke’ model with equipment and facilities being installed across four sites in the Black Country which will regenerate two brownfield sites. The Elite Centre is anticipated to become the new Institute of Technology in the Black Country.
The Hub will be an 800 sq.m regeneration of an historic but derelict building at the University of Wolverhampton’s new Springfield Brewery site in Wolverhampton city centre.
The ‘foundry and patternmaking spoke’ will be located on a site adjacent to an existing foundry in Dudley Port with access to their industrial facilities and will demolish a derelict building and replace it with a purpose built training block of c950 sq.m.
The ‘toolmaking’ spoke will be principally located in West Bromwich under the guidance of the Confederation of British Metalforming.
Metal joining and advanced machining training will be covered by the installation of new equipment and the use of existing equipment at the recently opened Dudley Advance at Dudley College.
Stewart Towe, Chairman of the Black Country LEP said: "This approval of funding is fantastic news for the high value manufacturing sector (HVM) in the Black Country. Through the Elite Centre the LEP will be able to remove barriers to business growth by supporting employers in key industry sub-sectors to invest in skills and in doing so contribute to improving the pipeline from education to HVM employment.
Through providing specific, targeted training across five specialist areas, the LEP will continue to support the growth of the global supply chain with the world class skills it demands within the aerospace and motor vehicle sectors.”
Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor University of Wolverhampton, said: "This is a key strategic project in linking employers, further education and higher education in the Black Country and we are delighted to be involved in what will be a unique collaborative approach to meeting the future skills needs of key sectors in the region. The Springfield Campus is a major part of our investment plan, which will generate £250m of investment over the next five years. It provides another huge step forward in the regeneration of Wolverhampton and the Black Country and will boost the economy and create jobs.”
David Eales, President, Confederation of British Metalforming said: "We are delighted to be working alongside the Black Country LEP and other partners to ensure the Elite Centre delivers the right training to ensure continued growth in the Metalforming sector. Our member businesses have long identified the need for specialist training which has been unavailable until now. They will invest in training when it links directly to their needs and this will start to address the severe skill shortages in the sector.”
Pam Murrell, Chief Executive, Cast Metals Federation said: "The Foundry and Patternmaking industries are important to the Black Country, yet there are currently no training facilities anywhere in the wider region to provide the necessary skills and training for the significant number of new employees required by this important sector of the advanced manufacturing supply chain. We are delighted to be working with the partners to deliver the skills the industry needs.”
Lowell Williams, Principal of Dudley College said: "We are delighted to be partners in the Elite Centre to help deliver specialist manufacturing training to ensure continued growth in the HVM sector. Through the Elite Centre we can deliver previously unavailable skills training in specialist topics in the Black Country.”