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Case Studies

Engineering Centre for Manufacturing Support

In summary:

Organisation: Birmingham City Council – South & City College Birmingham

Location: Bordesley Green, Birmingham

Project: Local Growth Funding (LGF) has been used to develop a new dedicated training facility for engineering SMEs. The centre provides vocational courses and apprenticeship programmes to young people in the local area.

Value of Funding: £207,000 of LGF

Total project cost: £501,000

The opportunity

The manufacturing sector has a long and successful history in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull area. During the last 20 years, the industry has needed to adapt more stringent requirements in product quality, delivery and affordability. Despite pressure from global competition, this region still boasts leading car and engine manufacturers, including Jaguar Land Rover, and outstanding research and development through companies such as Changan.

Manufacturers in the region rely on highly-skilled workers to fill vacant roles. However, an ageing workforce and national skills deficit means that many firms are now taking on more apprentices and recruiting from a small pool of existing skilled labour. For many SMEs in particular, this is a new venture and requires investment in training and technologies that could improve outputs with a reduced workforce. Therefore, the region needs to ensure that it can provide the right number of trained employees who are equipped for the working world.

To address this issue, South & City College has established an Engineering Centre to provide apprenticeship programmes in this sector, and support SMEs that have not previously employed apprentices and semi-skilled adults to fill the positions they need. This also helps to increase local business survival rates in the region, by ensuring that firms have fully trained staff.

Delivery

The College was allocated £207,000 of LGF by GBSLEP to set up an Engineering Centre. The funding paid for new equipment and the refurbishment of the site.

This flagship Centre was designed to help young people and adult learners to develop the skills and industry experience required by local companies. The training combines the advanced manufacturing skills of CNC and CAD/CAM with the traditional skills and processes of basic engineering, to provide high-quality vocational courses for the local population.

The Centre for Manufacturing Support plays a critical role in creating a culture where training is seen as an integral part of the business process, resulting in young people leaving education fully equipped for the working world.

Success to date

South & City College successfully developed new engineering provision to increase its number of students and support local businesses – as a result, the Engineering Centre has expanded its student intake.

The College has achieved its aim to engage 50 businesses in the engineering and manufacturing sectors, and a further 50 SMEs in the supply chain. It has also supported over 190 additional apprentices, from an initial target of 70, and increased its full cost recovery training by 30% – a significant increase on its original objective of 15%.

Future outlook

Longer term, South & City College is on track to meet all of its objectives:

  • Safeguard 600 SME jobs in the manufacturing and engineering sectors by 2020
  • Create 310 SME jobs – it has helped to generate 195 jobs so far
  • Support an additional 300 people into education and training – more than 130 people have been supported to date.