On 20 July, Martin Doyle — managing director of the Wellesbourne-based Engineering Technology Group (www.engtechgroup.com
) — launched the first of the company’s Technical Academies as part of a plan to help address the skills shortage in industry.
Located at Norton Motorcycles in Castle Donington, this first Academy will be followed by 14 more across the UK — all on the site of a manufacturing partner.
The Academies will give these partner companies the opportunity to ‘up-skill’ their staff on the latest CNC machine tools and manufacturing technologies.
Some partners will also be providing full apprenticeships, with training provided by In-Comm Training and Business Services Ltd, which has been rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills).
Each Academy will also provide demonstration/showroom facilities and reflect the manufacturing expertise required by the region it is based in, thereby ensuring that firms get access to skills that will help them grow, and that individuals receive training designed to help them secure employment.
Mr Doyle said: “There is a real need for industry to get to grips with developing the skills of the next generation of engineers, as well as those already working in manufacturing.
“The current education platform is broken and not relevant to the world we operate in, but instead of bemoaning our luck and lack of support, we’ve decided to do something about it with the launch of our national network of Technical Academies.
“ETG is investing £6 million in 15 Academies. These will be kitted out not only with world-leading CNC machine tools but also with equipment and software from technical partners that are keen to help bridge the skills gap, thereby creating what will — in essence — be advanced manufacturing cells capable of training young people and existing workers, while at the same time helping SMEs to resolve production issues.”
Technical Academy at Norton Motorcycles will feature a range of Bridgeport Hardinge, Quaser, Chiron and Nakamura CNC machines. It will be open to companies looking to train their staff in advanced manufacturing, as well as ETG customers and technical partners looking to demonstrate their technology on live projects.
The Academy will also act as a new prototyping cell for Norton, which will be able to quickly trial the manufacture of new parts for its range of British-built bikes, which are now highly sought-after by enthusiasts world-wide.
Stuart Garner, CEO of Norton Motorcycles (which also founded the British Motorcycle Manufacturing Academy to train 16- to 19-year-olds for a career in motorcycle manufacturing), said: “We are very proud of our British heritage and the reputation of UK manufacturing across the world.
However, in order for us to remain competitive, we have to do something about bridging the skills gap. “Working in partnership with ETG, we are proud to launch the first Technical Academy at our facility in Leicestershire.
“We look forward to using it to improve the skills of our workforce and to support the wider supply chain in embracing advanced manufacturing.”
ETG has agreements in place to shortly launch another six academies — in Birmingham, Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury, Warwickshire, Tayside and Ireland. Negotiations are currently under way with partners in Lincolnshire, Northern Ireland, the North East, the South East, the South West and the Thames Valley.
Each site will feature ETG-supplied machines and technical-partner equipment from the likes of Blum, Bott, Cimco, Filtermist, Formation, Guhring, Halter, Houghton, Hyfore, LNS, Mastercam, Nikken and WNT.
In addition to offering training, each academy will stage Open Days, product launches and best-practice seminars focused on the aero-space, automotive, medical and oil and gas sectors.