Black Country Skills Factory celebrates 5 years success in developing skills

  • Set up in 2013, the Black Country Skills Factory has been addressing skills shortages across the area for five years.
  • Over five years the Skills Factory have engaged 800 businesses, brokered and organised funding for 2000 plus bite sized upskilling courses, established the Enterprise Adviser Network in senior schools and has been identified as a Careers Hub pilot.
  • Developed feasibility study, created partnership and secured £8m funding for Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills.
  • Find out more about success to-date and future plans here:

Set up in 2013, the Black Country Skills Factory is celebrating five years of addressing skills shortages in the five transformational sectors in the Black Country including Advanced Manufacturing, Transport technologies, Construction, Environmental Technologies and Business Services.

Working across four activity strands including up-skilling of the existing workforce, apprenticeships, school engagement and Skills Factory communication, the Black Country Skills Factory has achieved the following:

  • The Black Country Skills Factory has engaged 800 businesses (especially in Manufacturing) to ensure that across each activity strand the Skills Factory is Employer led in relation to upskilling.
  • The Skills Factory has brokered and arranged funding for 2000 plus bite sized upskilling courses in both technical & managerial topics across the five transformational sectors, delivered by local providers. 275 Black Country businesses have 1 or more employees trained through a Skills Factory course.
  • Over the last five years, the Skills Factory has brought together a unique partnership of education and employment, along with obtaining funding for the newly completed Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS). The ECMS 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. A physical manifestation of the activity the Skills Factory has been delivering across the area in ensuring the project will deliver provision that doesn’t currently exist in the Black Country.
  • The Skills Factory has promoted and supported the expansion of high value Engineering Apprenticeships across the Black Country with apprenticeships in this sector doubling during the last five years.
  • Since 2016 the Black Country Skills Factory have established the Enterprise Adviser Network in senior schools resulting in 80 senior level business people now working one-to-one with the senior leadership teams at every Black Country secondary school supported by a team of Enterprise Coordinators.
  • The Skills Factory’s success has seen them identified as a ‘beacon’ area in then Country by the Careers and Enterprise Company resulting in the Black Country Careers Hub pilot project, one of 20 in the country looking to accelerate the quality of careers education in senior schools and academies, with 36 currently participating in then Hub.

Colin Parker, Black Country Skills Factory Director said: “The Black Country Skills Factory has had a fantastic impact over the last five years across careers education in the Black Country. From working with businesses to ensure we are helping them to address skills shortages through creating the right courses for employees to working with young people to help them understand all the possible careers path and the best ways they can be supported into work.”

Led by a strategic board made up of employers and providers, find out more about Skills Factory achievements over the last five years as well as how you can be part of the next five years, visit

The Black Country Skills Factory has received funding from UKCES, Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), European Social Fund (ESF), the Local Growth Deal and the Careers & Enterprise Company (CEC).


Picture credit: Hywel Ruddick: Black Country Consortium Ltd, Sanjeev Gill: Sandwell College, Steve Smith: Lift & Engineering Services Ltd, Professor Ian Oakes: Chair, Black Country Skills Factory, Colin Parker: Director, Black Country Skills Factory, David Woakes: Jonathan Lee Recruitment, Colin Mills: InComm.

Notes to Editors

About the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)

  1. The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) aligns activity across private and public sectors to create the right environment for businesses with a remit to tackle barriers to business growth and create a globally competitive local economy.
  2. Programmes to deliver our vision are structured around three areas of activity:
  • Business: supporting skills and competitiveness
  • People: raising skills and employability, for example through our City Deal and Skills Factory;
  • Place: including the provision of more high-quality employment land through our Enterprise Zone and City Deal.
  1. The LEP Board has identified seven priority areas where action will have the most impact on the Black Country and its contribution to the national economy:
  • Exploiting the potential of the Black Country as a place to live, do business and invest; focusing on our housing offer, the quality of employment land, and the distinctive role of our four strategic centres.
  • Using supply chains to build business commitment to skills and growth
  • Supporting innovation at our major science and business parks
  • Building a close relationship with our top 600 companies
  • Raising our skills levels
  • Securing inward investment
  • Developing a more entrepreneurial culture
  1. The Black Country located at the heart of the national transport network, comprises the metropolitan boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall and the City of Wolverhampton. It covers 356 sq kilometres, is home to 1.18 million people, with 23 per cent ethnic minority residents and 463,000 jobs in 37,490 companies.

For more information on the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership visit or follow on Twitter: @blackcountrylep