A new £1.5 million engineering centre of excellence in Redditch, designed to meet a growing demand for apprentices, must be a catalyst to attract new high technology businesses to the area, according to Ben Truslove, a director of property agency John Truslove.
His plea followed the firm’s letting of the Brook Building, on behalf of Howard S. Cooke & Co Ltd, to specialist training provider Midland Group Training Services (MGTS).
The centre has been made possible thanks to a private and public sector collaboration, with MGTS investing £800,000, both Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership and Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership investing £350,000, and North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration team tying it all together on behalf of Redditch Borough Council.
Scheduled to open in the autumn, the 16,500 sq ft centre will train up to 200 apprentice engineers over the next four years.
“It is fantastic news for Redditch and has been widely welcomed,” said Mr Truslove.
“But, in order to maximise the benefits to North Worcestershire, we need to retain as many of the talented young people this facility produces as possible, which means having the opportunities and openings to entice them to stay in the area.
“We need to have ‘top drawer’ premises in place which businesses of all kinds can move into quickly.
“These companies typically require 2,500-10,000sqft high specification factory/office hybrid units, which are in extremely short supply,” he said.
Redditch Gateway, also backed by the LEP, was intended to deliver more than one million square feet of new office and industrial space, creating up to 1,500 jobs.
Mr Truslove noted: “The first phase of this scheme is being developed on Government-controlled land, so it is critical that this once-in-a generation opportunity is not missed.
“High-tech business will not wait, so, if suitable premises aren’t delivered in the right timescale, these businesses will have no choice but to go elsewhere.”
In addition, a co-ordinated strategy was required aimed at encouraging high technology companies to locate in Redditch.
“The town has been hugely successful at pulling in light engineering, other manufacturing, logistics and service companies, the bedrock of the economy. But it is vital that we appeal to the high-tech companies which will generate further growth in the future,” said Mr Truslove.
“The MGTS deal is hard evidence that with a co-ordinated approach real progress can be achieved.
“The company is significantly expanding its Redditch campus, with the Brook Building being comprehensively refurbished to include cutting edge training areas, classrooms and engineering cells.
“This dovetails with another Council scheme which offers post graduate placements from Birmingham University into Redditch companies.
“A fantastic joint effort with exciting long-term potential, which we must maximise!”