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Partnership agreed for Cambridgeshire apprentice training centre


Partnership agreed for Cambridgeshire apprentice training centre

A leading engineering firm in Chatteris and one of the country’s top apprenticeship providers have confirmed their partnership to manage a new training centre for apprentices in Cambridgeshire.

Stainless Metalcraft (Metalcraft) and West Suffolk College (WSC) have partnered to manage and operate the North Cambridgeshire Training Centre (NCTC) – a new facility being developed on land owned by the Metalcraft business in Chatteris.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Business Board provided £3.16m to fund the training school through the Local Growth Fund.

The partnership sees Metalcraft – which was founded in 1864 and has trained its own apprentices for over 100 years – join forces with West Suffolk College, one of the country’s leading further education and apprenticeship providers. WSC is currently supporting nearly 13,000 students – including almost 2,000 apprentices and over 1,000 employers – from its sites across East Anglia.

Under the terms of the contract, which is for an initial period of five years, WSC will be responsible for the management of the centre and providing technical, virtual and hands-on training for between 80 and 130 students a year, as well as building relationships with local employers. Courses will range from introductory to Higher Level Apprenticeships.

The range of courses on offer will be informed by demand from local businesses, with priority areas including advanced manufacturing and engineering, and a focus on future-skills training, including robotics, automation and composite materials manufacturing.

The Combined Authority and the Business Board are investing in improving skills and training across the Combined Authority area, with a focus on areas where skills have fallen behind on average, including Fenland. They are also supporting the future sustainable growth advanced engineering and manufacturing sector, including through investing supporting the skills the industry needs to thrive.

Martin Lawrence, commercial director, at Metalcraft said: “Training our own people has been a key part of the Metalcraft success story over recent years, with almost 50% of our workforce – including members of the senior management team – beginning their careers as apprentices.

“The NCTC is designed to fill a gap in the vocational training offer in the North Cambridgeshire Fens, creating opportunities to up-skill local people and delivering a workforce ready to step into rewarding careers in growth industries over the coming years.

“We received a number of high-quality responses to our tender but WSC’s application stood out due to their extensive experience and expertise delivering a range of post-16 training programmes. They demonstrated a clear understanding of the local area and, with their award-winning track record, we’re looking forward to working closely with the team to bring our vision for the NCTC to life.”

Dr Nikos Savvas, Chief Executive Officer of the Eastern Colleges Group (which includes West Suffolk College, Abbeygate Sixth Form in Bury St Edmunds and One Sixth Form College in Ipswich), said: “The North Cambridgeshire Training Centre is a fantastic addition to the Eastern Colleges Group family. We strive to put our students at the heart of everything we do, and we’re always looking for innovative ways to link skills to jobs by supporting growing sectors in our region. The training delivered at this Centre will be of exceptional quality, and by partnering with respected local employers we can give our students the springboard they need into gaining technical and vocational experience to shape and empower our communities of the future.”

Laraine Moody, vice principal at WSC, said: “We’re delighted to have secured this contract, which promises to be a game changer for the local economy. At West Suffolk College, our mission is to use education as a catalyst for positive social change and prosperity for the communities we serve. This ethos fits well with Metalcraft’s vision for the NCTC. We’re excited by the potential offered by this new apprenticeship centre and looking forward to developing relationships with local employers to deliver the skills required.”

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson said: “The appointment of WSC as operator is a real landmark for the project.  With its focus on the needs of local people and our local economy, the vocational training school will provide a fantastic, state-of-the-art facility for local people to secure sustainable, rewarding employment.”

Nitin Patel, of the Business Board, added: “It is fantastic to see this much needed project continue to move forward at pace. Raising our skills levels in this sector and ensuring local employers have a robust pipeline of talent will be another step towards a sustainable and enduring recovery from Covid-19.”

Alongside Metalcraft, local organisations involved include The Active Learning Trust, Cambs Skills and ARU Peterborough – the new university for the city and a partnership between the Combined Authority, Peterborough City Council and Anglia Ruskin University.