Skip to main content


Filter by month:
Elite centres launched to boost manufacturing revival

The new £12.5 million Black Country Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS) has officially been launched by journalist and television presenter, Steph McGovern, marking a significant investment in the future of high-value manufacturing in the region.

ECMS is a collaboration between the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, University of Wolverhampton, Dudley College, Cast Metals Federation, Confederation of British Metalforming, Institute of Cast Metals Engineers and In-Comm Training.

Based on a Hub and Spoke model, dedicated training centres are now fully operational across the Black Country in collaboration with training providers and professional industry bodies to both upskill employees and train new apprentices in metal forming skills.

The ECMS Hub, based at the University of Wolverhampton’s £100 million regeneration project at the former Springfield Brewery, is an employer-led training facility for the Black Country which has been designed to build on the region’s renowned industrial heritage by providing specialist training, short courses and apprenticeships to upskill the current and future workforce, helping to close skills gaps identified by employers.

The ECMS Spokes comprise a new National Press and Tooling Centre designed and developed by the Confederation of British Metalforming and In Comm Training, located at the In-Comm Training Academy based in Aldridge, focusing on the delivery of toolmaking apprenticeships and technical courses. The Spoke at Dudley College focuses on advance welding training and the Spoke based in Tipton, designed and developed by the Cast Metals Federation and the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers, has advanced moulding and melting facilities which will be used to deliver foundry training at all levels.

Ian Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive at the ECMS, said:

“This is a key strategic project for the Black Country which links further education and higher education with local, regional and national employers.

“It’s well known that the manufacturing industry has an ageing workforce and that bespoke training courses -specifically matching industry requirements - can be difficult to source.

“We have listened carefully to what industry needs, and together with our partners, we have designed manufacturing facilities equipped with world class equipment and where world class training will be delivered by some of the finest technical experts in the business.

“Our aim at the ECMS is to give our learners a clear line of sight and a career pathway from Levels 2, 3 and 4, through to Higher National Certificate and Diploma and then Degree Apprenticeships, offering a complete or bespoke training package for the manufacturing sector through both practical and theoretical learning.”

Ninder Johal, Black Country LEP Board Member said:

“We are delighted to have worked with partners from the University and training providers to manufacturers and employers to ensure that this new state of the art facility will deliver provision that doesn’t currently exist in the Black Country.

“Funded through the Black Country LEP’s Growth Deal the ECMS will provide specialist training designed to improve productivity and growth across High Value Manufacturing in the Black Country and in doing so support the continued transformation of the Black Country economy.”

Apprentices learn on the job at one of the ECMS’s training Hub or Spokes equipped with new training rooms, metallurgy and metrology labs with access to partner training centres and state-of-the-art engineering facilities. All apprenticeships meet the New Apprenticeship Standards with a variety of delivery models available.

Courses have been developed, with employer input, in casting, toolmaking, patternmaking, metalforming and foundry training, as well as mechatronics, product design and development and advanced computer numerical control.

The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership approved £8.5 million for the project and the partners have invested £4 million.

For more information visit the website or watch the video below:

Image caption: Group Partners shot left to right: Ninder Johal (Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership), Ian Fitzpatrick (Chief Executive, Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills), Gareth Jones (Managing Director, In-Comm Training), Steph McGovern (Journalist and television presenter), Martin Dudley (Chairman and CEO of Thomas Dudley Ltd), Professor Ian Oakes (Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton), Pam Murrell (Chief Executive Officer, Cast Metals Federation and Institute of Cast Metals Engineers), Neil Thomas (Principal, Dudley College) and Geraldine Bolton (Chief Executive, Confederation of British Metalforming)

Latest News

Go to news page
Thousands Benefit from Hardship Support for Households Struggling to Pay Council Tax
More than 14,500 households in Wolverhampton who are struggling financially during the coronavirus crisis are seeing their council tax bills reduced by £150.
How has COVID-19 impacted your business?
We want to hear from businesses in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton about the challenges and obstacles they are facing surrounding COVID-19.
Government urged to use region as test bed for early re-opening of tourism sector
Regional leaders have called on Government to allow the West Midlands to become a national test bed for an early reopening of the tourism, hospitality and cultural sector.

Sign up to receive updates: