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The landmark occasion was marked by a ground breaking ceremony at the site where the building works are taking place. The ‘foundry and patternmaking spoke’ will provide a purpose built training facility adjacent to the existing Thomas Dudley foundry in Dudley Port where students will have access to industrial facilities.

The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) approved £8.04 million funding for the ECMS project with training being delivered in Tipton, Dudley, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton. Work has already started at the ECMS Hub site on the former Springfield brewery in Wolverhampton.

Led by the University of Wolverhampton, the ECMS Hub and Spokes will provide employer-led training designed to improve productivity and growth in the high value manufacturing (HVM) sector, bringing together business partners and education providers Dudley College, Black Country LEP, Thomas Dudley, Cast Metals Federation, Confederation of British Metalforming and the Institute of Cast Metal Engineers. The partners are investing an additional £4.15 million, bringing the total project value to £12.19 million.

The ECMS Hub and Spokes will provide world-class training facilities, supporting the delivery of apprenticeships through to Degree Apprenticeships at the University. They will also focus on upskilling to support and help business growth, providing transferrable skills for other sectors in the Black Country, across the UK and internationally. Shaylor Group has been appointed to complete the construction works due to their outstanding reputation in the education sector and particular expertise in delivering specialist training facilities.

Professor Ian Oakes, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, said:

“Manufacturing is a highly specialised sector that has an ageing workforce and which is suffering from a significant skills gap. Following extensive consultation with businesses across the Black Country, it’s clear that the region is lacking the skills that underpin HVM performance, productivity and growth.

“This is a key strategic project which links employers, further education and higher education in the Black Country and provides another huge step forward in the regeneration of the Black Country, helping to boost the economy and create jobs.”

Divisional Director at Shaylor group, Adrian Adams, said:

“We are delighted to be working alongside the University of Wolverhampton to provide the new Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills. Shaylor Group has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the University for over a decade which highlights our mutual support for local business and institutions. We are particularly proud to play our part in ensuring the future and growth of British commerce.”

Martin Dudley, Joint Managing Director of Thomas Dudley Ltd, said:

“At Thomas Dudley, we’re committed to help bridge the skills gap by attracting young people into engineering and developing their skill-sets. As such we’re delighted to support the Elite Manufacturing Centre and with it being built next to our Foundry, it offers a unique opportunity to provide students with a hands-on experience of what to expect in the workplace.”

The ‘toolmaking’ spoke will be principally located in West Bromwich under the guidance of the Confederation of British Metalforming. Metal joining and advanced machining training will be covered by the installation of new equipment and the use of existing equipment at the recently opened Dudley Advance at Dudley College.

Work has now started on the building project at Tipton and is due to be completed by October 2017.

Visit the ECMS website at www.theecms.co.uk

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