Friday, January 24, 2014

News: AMRC Training Centre provides the human interest story on the AMP

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The latest investment on the pioneering Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham was officially launched this week, but rather than new factories or facilities, the focus was on the investment in young people and the manufacturing workforce of the future.

The recently completed £20.5m AMRC Training Centre is part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, where the focus is on providing the skills that manufacturing companies need to compete globally.

Supported by the Regional Growth Fund and European Regional Development Fund, 250 students a year, aged from 16 upwards, will be taken on paid apprenticeships with opportunities to progress on to postgraduate courses.

The training is employer-led which ensures that the apprentices gain a tailored set of skills and hands on experience that employers require. The first class of apprentices come from businesses including Tata Steel, Rolls-Royce, Sheffield Forgemasters, AESSEAL, MTL Group, AMG Superalloys and Newburgh Engineering, and from the AMRC group itself.

More than 200 local employers visited the state-of-the-art centre at an open day to showcase the facilities and to hear from the first batch of 150 advanced apprentices.

Alison Bettac, director of training at The AMRC, said that because businesses have been involved alongside the university from the start, the benefits work both ways. She said: "Throughout this experience, employers are drawing on the developing skills of a highly trained workforce who have been exposed to the very best in high-value manufacturing – skills which are vital to their own business success. And as a University, we are developing the expertise of the next generation of manufacturing who are so essential to the region's SMEs and our economic strength."

Paul White, acting Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sheffield, described the regeneration of the former Orgreave open cast site as "education meeting business on an area where the past meets the future," adding: "It is a perfect example of the university responding to the needs of the region's industry, as it did when it was first founded.

"Founded with an explicit mission to provide both economic benefits and educational opportunity to local people, we are deeply proud of the fact that the AMRC Training Centre is a national leader in how young people might access training and employment opportunities in ways which also directly offer progression into a higher education of the highest quality."

Delegates also heard from the minister for local growth, cities and regeneration, Kris Hopkins MP, and the Mayor of Rotherham, John Foden.

Hamid Mughal, global vice president of manufacturing for Rolls-Royce, Tim Wheeler, industrial engagement manager for Boeing, and James Selka, production director at Rotherham-based AESSEAL, all took the opportunity to explain how important apprentices have been in creating the foundation for success in their respective companies.

Mughal said: "The potential of The AMRC is enormous. When you combine the very best in technology, processes and skills, it equals success, what I call knowledge based manufacturing excellence. And then combine that with passion. I see that passion for manufacturing here in Rotherham."

Adrian Allen OBE, commercial director at The AMRC, a Rotherham-born businessman who worked with Professor Keith Ridgway CBE to launch the AMRC with Boeing in 2001, closed the event. He said: "To think of the first centre, built on derelict wasteland ten years ago, compared to what we have now - the highest-tech facilities that I know of - you'd say we were crazy."

Thanking those involved, Allen concluded: "You'll do our region and our country proud when we have 1,000 apprentices coming through here to support the inward investment that we all desire."

AMRC Training Centre website

Images: University of Sheffield

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