Tuesday, October 30, 2018

News: £10m sought to expand AMRC Training Centre

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A funding bid to expand the pioneering AMRC Training Centre in Rotherham is set to be discussed next week.

The AMRC Training Centre is a £20.5m centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) 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 McLaren to local high-tech supply-chain companies.

Since taking on its first 140 apprentices in autumn 2013, the centre has grown rapidly into an award-winning centre of excellence. It has trained more than 1,000 apprentices for 250 companies in the region.

£10m is being sought from the Local Growth Fund (LGF) Skills Capital call recently launched by the Sheffield city region (SCR). £28m was notionally allocated to support skills capital projects and the funding has previously been used to support the new University Centre Rotherham.

The call invited initial Strategic Business Cases (SBC) from applicants who aim to address low levels of adult participation, increase Level 4 and above qualification attainment, collaboration and development of specialist niche provision with employers. The introduction of T-levels and supporting inward investment opportunities is also being encouraged.

Outlining a near £13m project, AMRC bosses are looking to extend its current training centre to provide additional workshop space. A particular focus in the bid is on the skills needed for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, also known as Industry 4.0, i.e. automation, robotics and digitalisation.

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A planning application from earlier this year designed to remedy parking problems at the site hinted at a 31,300 sq ft extension which would double the size of the centre to meet demand.

The commercial case states that even though the centre receives 700-800 applications each year, it currently has space for 250. However, no reason/evidence has yet been provided as to why the university or AMRC cannot provide match funding for the capital works.

The initial centre was built with support from the Regional Growth Fund and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The papers going before the SCR local enterprise partnership state: "There is currently a shortage of engineers at higher technical levels (e.g. level 4/ foundation degree). The shortage of skilled staff in automation means too many companies do not have internal champions who are comfortable with adopting new technologies.

"The inclusion of further robotics and automation technologies and training at the AMRC TC would provide a test bed for SMEs. The expectation is that by seeing automation in action, they would be less "intimidated." It would increase their understanding and enable them to invest with more confidence.

"The additional capacity and diversification of curriculum will strengthen progression routes from level 3 to level 7. This extension will provide more learners with the higher level technical skills required to meet both the impact of an ageing workforce and the move towards Industry 4.0. This will empower employers to provide greater opportunities, investment and ultimately encourage growth."

The AMRC is also bidding for £6m for a £12m project to purchase and refurbish equipment at the former Davy Markham site to create an Industry 4.0 Demonstrator Centre.

AMRC Training Centre

Images: AMRC

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