Ambitious plans to create a new manufacturing skills centre at the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield Campus as part of a £11.75m project have been submitted.
The Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS) is set to open for business in August 2017, thanks to £7.6m from the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal.
The centre will function as an employer-led training facility for the Black Country, designed to improve productivity and growth in the high value manufacturing (HVM) sector. The Black Country LEP has been instrumental in ensuring the project will deliver provision that doesn’t currently exist in the region.
The plans involve an L-shaped brick building which was constructed in the early 1880s and originally used as the brewery’s stables until, with the coming of motor transport, it was used as the brewery’s vehicle garage and repair shop.
The current building has suffered from deterioration and dilapidation since the closure of the brewery more than 20 years ago. The design aims to deliver high quality spaces for the provision of training, teaching and demonstration, and also includes welfare facilities and administrative offices associated with the operation of the centre.
Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said: “The Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS) is an important element of our plans to transform the former Springfield Brewery site into a major educational quarter within Wolverhampton city centre.
“The planning application is the next step in this exciting project which brings together employers, further education and higher education in the Black Country.
“The Springfield Campus is a significant part of the University’s Your Vision, Our Opportunity investment plan, which will generate £250m of investment over the next five years. Once complete, the super-campus will provide skills education from the age of 14 right through to advanced professional level.
“We are committed to the regeneration of Wolverhampton, and this marks the next stage of our ambitious plans to re-develop this historic site, boost the economy and create jobs.”
The Springfield Campus will be a centre of excellence for the built environment, construction and high value manufacturing. It will be home to the West Midlands Construction University Technical College and the University’s School for Architecture and the Built Environment. It is all part of a £100m project to regenerate the site by the University and local partners.
The Elite Centre will provide specialist training in Toolmaking; Foundry; Patternmaking; Metalforming / Forging; Advanced CNC; Manufacturing Management, Leadership and Project Management. These skills underpin HVM performance, productivity and growth and were identified as current barriers to growth by the Black Country Skills Factory following extensive consultation with businesses across the Black Country. The training will be delivered through both Apprenticeships and short courses.
The centre will be established as a non-profit making organisation governed by partners and with an industry-led board of directors.
The project development will be led by the University of Wolverhampton and the Elite Centre will follow a ‘hub and spoke’ model with equipment and facilities being installed across four sites in the Black Country which will regenerate two brownfield sites. The Elite Centre is anticipated to become the new Institute of Technology in the Black Country.
The ‘foundry and patternmaking spoke’ will be located on a site adjacent to an existing foundry in Dudley Port with access to their industrial facilities and involve demolition of a derelict building to be replaced with a purpose built training block of c950 sq.m.
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.
The planning application for the ECMS at the Springfield Campus has been submitted to Wolverhampton City Council.