AMRC Training Centre opens doors to employers

The University of Sheffield’s new AMRC Training Centre opened its doors to local employers to showcase its state-of-the-art facilities and highlight the benefits of advanced apprenticeships.

The AMRC Training Centre, supported by the Regional Growth Fund and European Regional Development Fund, provides training in the practical and academic skills that manufacturing companies need to compete globally. As well as apprenticeships, it links with both Sheffield universities for higher-level education up to doctorate and MBA level, and offers a range of courses for continuing professional development.

It is based in a new 5500 sq m building alongside the AMRC with Boeing and Nuclear AMRC on the Advanced Manufacturing Park, within the Sheffield/Rotherham Enterprise Zone. The building opened its doors in January for the first class of 150 advanced apprentices.

The apprentices come from a wide range of manufacturers with operations in the Sheffield city region, including Tata Steel, Rolls-Royce, Sheffield Forgemasters, AES Seal, MTL Group and Newburgh Engineering, and from the AMRC group itself.

Aged from 16 up, the apprentices are spending a year learning fundamental skills at the Training Centre before completing their apprenticeships with their employers. The apprentices started their training in October, spending their first term in dedicated training workshops on the AMRC campus while the final touches were put to the Training Centre itself.

Alison Bettac, AMRC director of training, said: “The AMRC Training Centre offers a unique opportunity for young people to learn vital industry skills with the very best manufacturers in the region and the world. But they do this within the context of the University of Sheffield AMRC, which means they are also within a world-leading educational environment which encourages their potential and offers them new routes into higher education. They are able to take advantage of opportunities for part-time study, which mean they can if they wish also progress to degrees and higher-level qualifications, while still gaining experience with their employer and earning as they learn.

“The benefits work both ways. Throughout this experience, employers are also drawing on the developing skills of a highly trained workforce who have been exposed to the very best in high-value manufacturing – skills which are vital to their own business success. And as a University, we are developing the expertise of the next generation of manufacturing who are so essential to the region’s SMEs and our economic strength.”

To launch the new centre, over 200 local employers joined an employers open day on 23 January. The event featured presentations from industry figures including Hamid Mughal, global vice president of manufacturing for Rolls-Royce, Tim Wheeler, industrial engagement manager for Boeing, and James Selka, production director at AES Seal, as well as some of the centre’s apprentices. Delegates were also addressed by local growth minister Kris Hopkins MP; the Mayor of Rotherham, John Foden; and Paul White, acting vice-chancellor at the University of Sheffield.

Paul White said: “The AMRC Training Centre is an integral part of the University’s forward looking approach to education and complements the vital work we already do to support SMEs and larger companies in the city-region, in particular through the AMRC and our world-leading Faculty of Engineering.

“It also reflects our long-standing commitment as a University to developing the talents of young people from all backgrounds, and to reaching out in new ways to support young people who have tremendous potential but who may be taking different routes into higher education. As a University founded with an explicit mission to provide both economic benefits and educational opportunity to local people, we are deeply proud of the fact that the AMRC Training Centre is a national leader in how young people might access training and employment opportunities in ways which also directly offer progression into a higher education of the highest quality.”

Kris Hopkins, who announced new funding for the Sheffield/Rotherham Enterprise Zone, said: “The AMRC Training Centre will give local young people the opportunity to learn the skills they need to find jobs and will ensure a high-skilled workforce to fill the 20,000 jobs that the Sheffield Enterprise Zone aims to create in the next 20 years.

“Sheffield has a proud history in manufacturing, and our long-term economic plan is helping it to grow stronger, to build more homes and create more jobs for its hard working people.

“We already gave the local businesses and councils not just the money but the powers to drive their own economy, and have set up the Enterprise Zone to attract private sector investment and boost skills in the Sheffield area.  And we are investing an extra £1.8 million, with more funding on the pipeline, to ensure the Zone has the infrastructure it needs to bring even more businesses into the area.”

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