A new training facility in Telford is aiming to plug the gaps in engineering and manufacturing. Matt Panter takes up the story.
It feels like the perfect location. A business park brimming with opportunity, just a few miles away from the home of the industrial revolution. In-Comm Training’s new £3m technical academy in Telford is on a mission to help Shropshire and surrounding areas plug skills gaps in engineering and manufacturing.
To do so, it is looking to train more than 350 apprentices and upskill 2,500 existing workers at its new T54 academy over the next twelve months.
You get the feeling In-Comm will succeed. It is, after all, an ‘Ofsted Outstanding’ provider.
In Telford, it has created 20,000 sq ft of manufacturing training space, fitting it out with new equipment and state-of-the-art technology, spanning from the latest CNC machines, robotics, fluid power and material testing to welding, electrical, lathes, millers, CAD/CAM and metrology equipment.
A team of 20 expert trainers – all with considerable experience in industry – will be on hand to guide the engineers of the future and to deliver best practice courses that will help local companies future-proof employees for years to come.
“It’s a fantastic facility, near the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and the epicentre for industry for the north Marches region,” says Gareth Jones, managing director for In-Comm Training.
“That’s why we chose to bring it here. The work starts now and we want to work with manufacturing and engineering organisations and really understand their values, engaging with them on strategy and growth.
“We have to plug the gap that has emerged with initiatives to bring new blood into the pipeline as well as reskilling existing employees for new job roles. We have got a massive part to play in the development of the industry.”
Bridgnorth’s James Morgan, 24, In-Comm Training’s Apprentice of the Year, officially opened the Telford Technical Academy. He is now working full-time at Torus, over the road from the academy, as a product engineer.
“Without the courses and programmes and being pushed outside my comfort zone, I wouldn’t be in the position I am now with Torus,” he explains. “It has set me up for the future.”
Gareth adds: “We’ve been operating in Shropshire since 2015 and all of our clients have been saying to us that Telford has been crying out for a dedicated manufacturing training centre for years.
“Our approach, being very much employer-led, meant we had to act on this, so we decided to make a £3 million investment into taking on the building on T54 and creating a truly world-class technical academy for the thousands of manufacturers operating in the town and county.
“Telford is just a few minutes away from where the first industrial revolution started and industry is going through the next one, with digital transformation firmly on the agenda and a move to more sustainable production high on the list of priorities.
“Our manufacturers have a major role to play in this and we are using the opening as a rallying call to get more strategic partners involved in how we deliver training in the area.”“They are replicating real-world manufacturing environments with state-of-the art equipment unrivalled in the UK. We want Shropshire to be the best it can be – where people work, live and learn. We can lead the world but not without world-class training and this will be the critical factor in capturing competitive advantage.”
The centre will be home to the Marches spoke of the Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology, which is pioneering a new approach to delivering today’s higher technical education for tomorrow’s careers.
The aim is to create a vibrant learning environment that boots the capabilities of academia, employers, and higher education – all geared towards providing high quality training opportunity with clear pathways to skilled jobs in automotive, advanced engineering, aerospace, construction, medical and renewables.
There will also be a strong focus on delivering upskilling and managed services from Telford, as well as expert consultancy on safety and quality compliance, leadership and management and continuous improvement.
Bekki Phillips, chief operating officer at In-Comm Training, said: “There’s no escaping the tough economic climate. But, at the same time, local manufacturers have some great opportunities through reshoring and leading the electrification race.
“Protecting the skills of today and future developing the skills required for tomorrow will be key in turning the potential into reality.
“A strong UK economy needs a buoyant manufacturing sector, and we’ll only achieve this by growing engineering and industrial skills. If we achieve this, our innovative companies will no longer have to worry about gaining access to the talent they need to lead the world.”
In-Comm Training marked the open day by inviting senior delegates, including Selina Graham, the High Sheriff of Shropshire, Claire Critchell, of Telford & Wrekin Council and Kathryn Jones, from Marches LEP, to attend.
And the High Sheriff’s words will hopefully resonate with many talented youngsters, moving forward, as they look to embark on their journeys.
“It’s important to provide young people with the ability to be creative, resilient and to add value to the world they are inheriting,” she said.
“At this new base, you have training that equips the apprentices with the skills and confidence required to make a real impact.