Friday, March 6, 2015

News: AMRC Training Centre exceeds targets

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The AMRC Training Centre in Rotherham is set to exceed recruitment targets and is more than meeting the needs of local manufacturing firms in helping to shape the future workforce.

The AMRC Training Centre is a £20.5m centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham where the focus is on students aged from 16 upwards, taken on paid apprenticeships. Part of the The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, apprentices have opportunities to progress on to postgraduate courses, doctorates and MBA levels. Sponsoring companies range from global leaders such as Rolls-Royce and Tata Steel to local high-tech supply-chain companies.

The centre is set to exceed recruitment targets when the final group for 2014/15 arrives in mid-March, bringing the total for the preceding 12 months to 250 and raising the number of apprentices in full or part time training to 410.

What's more, apprentices have been staying on after their courses have finished to learn additional skills.

"A lot have asked to study additional modules – more than we expected," says AMRC Training Centre director of training, Alison Bettac.

"We have got 50 staying beyond the standard 26 weeks, which shows companies are buying into this model of training for their apprentices."

With a board made up of representatives from local companies, the centre is very much employer-led, focusing on industry as the customer.

That link to the real world of work is supported by two trainers who left manufacturing to give something back to industry and help UK firms close the skills gap.

Machining specialist, Neil Bloomer worked for companies supplying diverse sectors, including, textiles processing, medical implants, glass making and the automotive firms, before joining the Nuclear AMRC and then moving to the Training Centre. David Smith, an electrical and electronic engineering specialist, worked for Outokumpu and Tata Steel's specialty steels operations in Rotherham, before joining the Training Centre.

Both men started out in engineering at a time when there were plenty of apprenticeships, but saw numbers fall, before the recent resurgence which led to the establishment of the AMRC Training Centre.
David (pictured, left) said: "When I first started there were a lot of apprentices, but there is now a lack of engineering skills in this country and companies are struggling to find the right calibre of people – that's why a place like this is of paramount importance.

"There had been such a decline from when we were apprentices, but now government and industry realise that apprentices are the way forward."

Neil (pictured, right) added: "Being an apprentice may involve two or three years of pain, but it's for a big gain. I think that as far as the apprentices here are concerned, if they are prepared to learn, the world is their oyster."

Securing National College status, the AMRC Training Centre is set to become a key part of the UK's new National College for Advanced Manufacturing, which will be based at several hubs around the country and will aim to identify the needs of industry and develop training provision to meet those needs.

The AMRC Training Centre has plans to grow the number of apprentices it is training and expand into new areas. These will include process control engineering, polymers, automation and robotics for food manufacturing and electronics and instrument control, which supports the strategic partnership with the new HS2 railway engineering college being set up in Doncaster.

The Centre also hopes to run short courses for up to 650 people a year, including CPD (Continuing Professional Development) courses, and to introduce higher education courses ranging from foundation to Masters degrees.

AMRC Training Centre website

Images: AMRC

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