Elite centre launched to boost manufacturing revival 

The £12.5 million Black Country Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills looks to both upskill employees and train new apprentices

The new £12.5 million Black Country Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS) has officially been launched by journalist and television presenter, Steph McGovern.

Based on a hub and spoke model, dedicated training centres are now fully operational across the Black Country – in collaboration with training providers and professional industry bodies – to both upskill employees and train new apprentices in metal forming skills.

The ECMS hub, based at the University of Wolverhampton’s £100 million regeneration project at the former Springfield Brewery, is an employer-led training facility for the Black Country. It has been designed to build on the region’s industrial heritage by providing specialist training, short courses and apprenticeships, helping to close skills gaps identified by employers.

The ECMS spokes comprise: a new National Press and Tooling Centre in Aldridge, focusing on the delivery of toolmaking apprenticeships and technical courses; a spoke at Dudley College, focusing on advance welding training; and another based in Tipton, boasting advanced moulding and melting facilities to deliver foundry training at all levels.

ECMS is a collaboration between the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, University of Wolverhampton, Dudley College, Cast Metals Federation, Confederation of British Metalforming, Institute of Cast Metals Engineers and In-Comm Training.

Ian Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive at the ECMS, said: “It’s well known that the manufacturing industry has an ageing workforce, and that bespoke training courses matching industry requirements can be difficult to source.

“We have listened carefully to what industry needs and, together with our partners, we have designed manufacturing facilities equipped with world class equipment; where world class training will be delivered by some of the finest technical experts in the business.

“Our aim at the ECMS is to give our learners a clear line of sight and a career pathway from Levels 2, 3 and 4, through to Higher National Certificate and Diploma and then Degree Apprenticeships, offering a complete or bespoke training package for the manufacturing sector through both practical and theoretical learning.”

Apprentices learn on the job at one of the ECMS’s training hub or spokes – equipped with new training rooms, metallurgy and metrology labs – with access to partner training centres and state-of-the-art engineering facilities. All apprenticeships meet the New Apprenticeship Standards, with a variety of delivery models available.

Courses have been developed – with employer input – in casting, toolmaking, pattern making, metalforming and foundry training, as well as mechatronics, product design and development and advanced computer numerical control.

The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership approved £8.5 million for the project, while the partners have invested £4 million.

For more information visit the website.