A scheme set up to bridge the skills gap in manufacturing and engineering in the Sheffield City Region is proving a success.
More than 100 companies have signed up to the Academy of Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence (AMEE), which has a target of training up to 800 young people and placing 300 jobless into apprenticeships.
In its first eight months the academy, run by Brinsworth Training, has found apprenticeships for 63 unemployed youngsters and has training completed or in the pipeline for more than 40 staff at more than 20 firms.
Employers who have signed up include Ronseal, Cutting & Wear, Firth Rixson, Toyoda Gosei and Robson Handling Technology. The companies can access subsidised training under the scheme, which is aimed at delivering training that cannot be found elsewhere.
Jen Spendlove, operations director of Brinsworth Training, said: “The training is bespoke in each case. It might be that a company has an employee who knows how to use one piece of equipment, but not another. And rather than sending them on a big course which doesn’t really cover what they want and has all the costs in time and money, we can organise the niche training they need.
“That way it literally fills the skills gaps that can hold companies back. But it is not just for the shopfloor, it can also cover training for managers where they have gaps in knowledge, perhaps in exporting or identifying new markets.”
Jason Sharland, production manager at Robson Handling Technology, of Sheffield, which makes conveyor belt systems for sectors including airports and manufacturing, has two apprentices undertaking training under the AMEE scheme.
Jason said: “Being able to access tailor-made training at a reduced cost is a great help to us. It means we can upskill or multi-skill staff much more easily than we could before. That helps with productivity and ultimately the bottom line.”
The project has been partly supported by HM Government with Employer Ownership funding and has a strategic advisory board made up of more than 20 employers from the engineering and manufacturing sector.
Most of the training is done at the company’s own premises, with the Introduction to Engineering taster days for would-be apprentices run at Brinsworth’s Rotherham base.
Jen Spendlove said: “We have an impressive engineering and manufacturing sector here in the Sheffield City Region, but we need to make sure we have the skills to keep up in a global market.
“Relying on market solutions to the problem doesn’t seem to work. But AMEE is about employers being pro-active and finding the solutions themselves.
“The training also means companies can recruit locally knowing that they can provide the bespoke training needed.
“It might be that they operate in a very niche market and have equipment that is very specialist. It might be difficult or impossible to find off-the-shelf training for that, but under this scheme we can literally build the training to match.”
AMEE is open to all manufacturing and engineering businesses in the Sheffield City Region and is due to run until 2017.