Apprentices get fired up about manufacturing at new foundry

The first group of manufacturing Apprentices are getting fired up at the University of Wolverhampton’s National Foundry Training Centre in Tipton.

The Foundry is part of the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills – 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.

Partners have invested £12.6 million in the future of manufacturing in the region by opening bespoke, dedicated training centres and working with existing training providers to equip people with manufacturing skills including casting, toolmaking, patternmaking, metalforming, and foundry training, as well as mechatronics, product design and development and advanced computer numerical control.

40 apprentices from manufacturing companies across the Black Country, Birmingham, Leicester, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and Sheffield are currently studying for Level 3 qualifications in patternmaking, metalforming and toolmaking.

Ian Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive of the ECMS, said: “It’s wonderful to see our first cohort of Apprentices bringing the National Training Foundry to life.

“The University of Wolverhampton, with partner organisations, has invested in the future of manufacturing in the region by opening dedicated training centres to equip people with an array of manufacturing skills – some of which have not been seen in the Black Country for years.

“On the doorstep of the Black Country, apprenticeships are on offer for the industries that formed the back-bone of the industrial revolution.  Toolmaking, foundry, patternmaking, metalforming are being revived, finding their place alongside training in mechatronics, product design and development and advanced computer numerical control.”

Mark Rixham, Managing Director of Simpson Patterns Ltd in Sheffield, said: “It used to be a badge of honour to be studying for an Apprenticeship, and it’s really encouraging to see the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills bringing some pride and recognition back to the industry.

“Over the past few decades, there haven’t been any Apprenticeship models that suited the industry and there’s a real shortage of patternmakers.  Our core business is traditional patternmaking but we also make patterns for composite parts and mould systems and parts for businesses in construction, Automotive Marine and aerospace and we’re very much looking at emerging markets.  Patternmakers have huge transferrable skills and studying for an apprenticeship offers young people a wealth of opportunity to work across the board in manufacturing.”

All Apprenticeships meet the New Apprenticeship Standards with a variety of delivery models available.