Shrewsbury College’s Engineering Department welcomed a host of special guests at its re-launch today, when nearly a million pounds of state-of-the-art equipment was unveiled to help train the engineers of tomorrow.
Shrewsbury College, part of the Shrewsbury Colleges Group (which includes Shrewsbury Sixth Form College), secured nearly £500,000 from the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership via its Growth Deal with Government to develop one of three advanced manufacturing training hubs in the region. The College put a further £250,000 towards the project and has received gifts from a number of other companies, including Status Metrology, who gifted £100,000 towards metrology equipment and software for the College. The total value of new equipment and software for the department totals around £1m.
Head of Engineering, Andrew Lee, said: “The College entered into a robust employer consultation followed by a highly competitive bidding process to achieve the funding from the LEP, to which we have added a further £250,000 ourselves.
“The areas of investment have been specifically selected to meet the local and regional employment training needs, providing specialist equipment for training in 3D CAD/Modelling, Advanced CNC/Machining, Fabrication and Welding, Electronics, Robotics, Manufacturing, CMM, Mechatronic Engineering and Automotive Engineering (in response the new training requirement for MOT testers).
“The result of this funding is that we have become one of the largest and best-equipped engineering and automotive centres in the region. The investment has already had a big impact on the department. We have entered several students into the WorldSkills UK 2017 competition who have been training on the new equipment. Our relationships and partnerships with local businesses have strengthened and we have increased the number and type of Apprenticeships we are offering both local and multi-national companies, to enable them to train engineers with advanced skills to best suit their developing business needs.”
To celebrate the investment and re-launch, a plaque was officially unveiled today by LEP Director Gill Hamer, who talked about the context of the funding and why engineering is a LEP priority.
Invited guests ranged from employers, qualification awarding bodies, manufacturers and suppliers, including Staffordshire University, Caterpillar Shrewsbury Ltd, Cargotec, IMI, City and Guilds, Shropshire Business Board, IMECE, Made in the Midlands, Harper Adams University, Ricoh UK producers Ltd, Halfords Autocentres, NFEC, Salop Design and Engineering Ltd, Doncasters, Castalum, RMT Garage Services Ltd, HAAS Automation, FESTO, Greenhous and JT Hughes.
Gill Hamer said: “Manufacturing employers across the Marches are telling us that a lack of people with the right skills is a barrier to business. It is also a barrier to the economic growth of this region.
“Working with businesses, we have developed an advanced manufacturing skills project to fund the development of three training centres in our region to meet employer demand. The Growth Deal funding for the Shrewsbury College centre will see more than 180 businesses directly supported and the creation of more than 450 Apprenticeships.”
Principal and CEO of Shrewsbury Colleges Group, James Staniforth, said: “This fantastic investment in our facilities puts us in the unique position of being able to offer students a range of courses from basic introductory levels, through to degrees, Apprenticeships and bespoke training, which meets individual company needs.
“We are extremely grateful to all our partners who have enabled us to make such a significant investment, both our excellent employer partners and particularly the Marches LEP. We are delighted that we will now be in an even better position to meet employer need and help our forward-thinking LEP achieve its aims for economic growth.
“This collaborative project will enable us to meet the business and student needs in many varied engineering disciplines and qualifications. It’s an exciting day in the history of the College, and cements its place as the leading training provider for the region.”