Tuesday, October 10, 2023

News: AMRC Training Centre ten years on


The University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre is celebrating its tenth birthday.

With state-of-the-art facilities on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the centre has trained over 1,700 apprentices, helping to create the manufacturing workforce of the future.

Opening on October 7 2013, The AMRC Training Centre is on the former Orgreave Colliery and Coking works where the focus is on students aged from 16 upwards, taken on paid apprenticeships by big names and local manufacturers. Apprentices have opportunities to progress on to postgraduate courses, doctorates and MBA levels.

Nikki Jones, the director of the AMRC Training Centre, said: “When you bring together education and industry - it is very powerful. You might describe it as a marriage made in heaven.

"We’ve been doing apprenticeships for ten years now and they matter just as much now as when we started. They are so important for the education mix and providing the workforce for the future. Any industry needs to have skilled people going into their businesses, apprenticeships give them access to that pipeline of talent.

“We must continue to invest in apprenticeships nationally and continue to support all employers - large or small - to take on apprentices. They bring in new skills and fresh ideas, and their ability to progress within an organisation starts very early. If you start your apprenticeship at 16 and finish at 22, you have been in that industry for quite some time and can move much quicker into senior roles. We see that over and over again.

“Apprenticeships start preparing a person for their work life. When you put a young person into that environment, they really develop holistically because they have to be more than just a qualification.”

Alumni apprentice Bethany Cousins was part of the first cohort of students to undertake an apprenticeship at the AMRC Training Centre, aged 18. Starting with her advanced apprenticeship, Beth went on to complete a degree apprenticeship, both in manufacturing engineering.

Beth, who works as a manufacturing engineer at the neighbouring AMRC, said: “My apprenticeship at the AMRC Training Centre paved the way to my career, I wouldn’t have got both the practical and theoretical experience in any other way.

“I enjoyed meeting other apprentices, especially those who were based in other companies. It enabled me to hear about how others applied the theory and perhaps did things a little differently, it was a great additional learning experience.

“South Yorkshire sits in a heavy manufacturing-based area and it’s fantastic to have the AMRC Training Centre sit in-between, having my place of work next door really helped in getting that hands-on experience, and enabled me to network with key industry contacts I would keep for years to come.”

Former apprentice Connor, 22, who completed his degree apprenticeship in maintenance engineering, spent almost five years working for hand tool and storage solutions manufacturer Stanley Black & Decker at Hellaby in Rotherham, but for the past six months, has been working as a methods process analyst for aerospace giant Boeing at its Sheffield facility, which is the only one in Europe.

Connor said: "Rotherham has a rich industrial heritage and I feel it’s important to uplift people’s knowledge and skills, whatever age, and keep these valuable jobs in the UK, instead of seeing engineering progress and advancements be lost to other countries. We need to keep the UK industry alive."

New apprenticeship pathways at the centre include include automation and controls, composites and nuclear and it is also part of the consortium behind a new South Yorkshire Institute of Technology (IoT) that will launch this year, investing £500,000 in new software and technology at the training centre.

Looking ahead, Gareth Wilkinson, head of skills at the AMRC Training Centre, said: "I’d like for us to move into new things, build on what we’ve got, as well as exploring food and drink and nuclear, robotics and Industry 4.0 more. These are all massive areas where we’ll see growth and change in the future, all connected to net zero and sustainability – and it’s here where we really need to ramp up over the coming years to help our apprentices solve the problems of the future and keep on top of the needs of industry.”

AMRC Training Centre website

Images: AMRC Training Centre


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