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Skills Factory will boost training in Black Country

The Black Country Skills Factory is a new employer-led education & training collaboration being coordinated by Black Country Consortium Ltd with funding via UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES). The Skills Factory concept builds on the Black Country’s long tradition of engineering excellence and an existing cluster of High Value Manufacturing (HVM) businesses.

This project aims to address the current shortfall in HVM skills in the Black Country for both large and small employers, increase the pipeline of suitably skilled staff to respond to the growth of the sector, establish the Skills Factory as a self-financing first point of contact for skills development.

There are 3 main strands to the project:

  • Up-skilling of existing workforce
  • Increasing the number of SMEs taking engineering based apprentices
  • Schools engagement


Up-skilling the existing workforce

A range of new "bite-sized” courses have been developed by the Black Country Skills Factory to address skills gaps and shortages in their workforce.

Delivered during the first few weeks of July by a partnership including specialist training providers and Black Country colleges, the initial 6 pilot courses will target some elements of the multi-skilling of maintenance technicians in high value manufacturing companies. The course contents range from electric motors and drives to pullies, sprockets, chains and belts.

This initial programme of pilot courses has been developed following research carried out by the Black Country Skills Factory with over 35 employers to establish a programme tailored towards employer led demand.

The courses, delivered at venues across the Black Country, range in duration from half a day to two days and will be offered at an introductory subsidy of £100 per day (per person).

Alongside these courses and in association with the University of Wolverhampton is a new BEng (Hons) Manufacturing Engineering degree. This is an accelerated degree programme, delivered over two years, allowing employees to embed their learning directly into their own workplace.

The qualification is ideal for ambitious and highly motivated individuals; such as apprentices who want to further their education or mature staff with ambition to gain a work-based qualification.


Increasing the number of Black Country HVM SME companies having apprentices is one of the key targets for the Black Country Skills Factory. To promote this aim, the Black Country Skills Factory has launched various subsidies for SME’s who take on new apprentices. The subsidies range from £1,000 to £3,500 aim to support Engineering Apprenticeships in Black Country HVM sector subject to terms and conditions. The subsidy is in addition to existing government grants and aims to compensate employers for the non-productive time spent at college & lack of productivity.

The Black Country Skills Factory will promote apprentices as a valuable way to increase skills in the workforce and help eliminate skills gaps in industry, by encouraging and growing new talent in the area. The Black Country Skills Factory is working in collaboration with training providers and colleges who deliver apprenticeship programmes to promote the subsidy to employers.

For further Information on the Black Country Skills Factory, the bite-sized courses, degree or the Apprenticeship subsidy, please contact:

Colin Parker Skills Factory Director on 07944 268709 or or visit the website

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