Education Secretary ‘hugely impressed’ by apprentices
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has highlighted the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) as a ‘brilliant example’ of how a leading university can collaborate with industry to boost skills and jobs.
During a visit to the AMRC today (20 August 2019), Mr Williamson saw how it is using cutting-edge technology to drive innovations in manufacturing, while offering high-quality technical training to help boost skills and jobs in key sectors like science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
He took a tour of the AMRC’s Factory 2050 - a state-of-the-art facility that sees global powerhouses such as Boeing and McLaren Automotive, as well as smaller local employers, use advanced technologies like robotics and virtual reality to develop innovative manufacturing techniques.
It also provides high-quality apprenticeship training and higher education in engineering and manufacturing through the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre, delivering the skills and pipeline of talent that top firms like Boeing need to compete globally.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, said: “It is absolutely vital that we continue to grow the nations’ skills particularly in key areas like science, technology, engineering and maths so we have a workforce that is fit for the future. I am focused on making sure this is a priority area for this government.
“I’ve been hugely impressed by what I have seen here today at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre. What they are doing here is a brilliant example of how one of our top universities is collaborating with global firms like Boeing as well as smaller employers to boost skills and jobs across the region.
“I would like to see more collaborations like this across the country.”
On the visit, Mr Williamson met with AMRC Training Centre apprentices from local companies and from Boeing’s European production facility in Sheffield, seeing first-hand how their training is giving them the skills they need to forge great careers in the region.
He also tried out some of the impressive technologies on show at the AMRC, including virtual reality simulations used to train workers and augmented reality for capturing data.
Chris Greaves, Head of the Integrated Manufacturing Group at the University of Sheffield AMRC, welcomed Mr Williamson to Factory 2050, telling him it is the place where ‘digital meets manufacturing’ helping companies de-risk and adopt Industry 4.0 technologies.
Chris said: “We are very grateful for the Secretary of State’s support on apprenticeships. Our success is down to our people and apprentices are very much key to that for us. We’ve been delighted with the apprentices that have come to us through the AMRC Training Centre.
“To invest more heavily in apprenticeships - to get the right skill sets into manufacturing - is not only important to us and the region but it’s very important to the UK economy and manufacturing as a whole.”
Professor Koen Lamberts, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “We were delighted to show the Education Secretary how our outstanding research translates into world class manufacturing capabilities and how we are working with our industrial and regional partners to develop the skills that businesses need.
"We were particularly pleased to show the full breadth of what we have to offer - including apprenticeships, degree apprenticeships and undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses - and how they all contribute to an evolving education ecosystem.”
Boeing opened its production facility in Sheffield in 2018 - the company’s first manufacturing site in Europe. The £40 million, 6,200-square-metre facility, employs over 70 people, with almost 30 apprentices. It offers access to high-quality apprenticeship opportunities in machining and technical support through the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre, including at advanced, higher, degree and postgraduate levels apprenticeships.
During the visit, Mr Williamson also joined a discussion with representatives from Sheffield’s growing digital sector - including business and regional leaders and representatives from the University of Sheffield and its AMRC - to discuss the skills needed to ensure it continues to flourish.