Ceremony breaks new ground in investment in manufacturing skills

The University of Wolverhampton, part of the West Midlands Combined Universities, has appointed Aspect Construction to build its Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS) Hub at the former Springfield Brewery in Wolverhampton.

The landmark occasion, which took place on the first day of National Apprenticeship Week, was marked by a ground breaking ceremony at the site where the building works are due to take place.

The ECMS Hub and Spokes will provide world-class training facilities and will support the delivery of apprenticeships through to degree level 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.

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.

Professor Ian Oakes, Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “We are committed to the regeneration of Wolverhampton and this ceremony marks the next stage of our ambitious plans to re-develop this historic site – helping to boost the economy and create jobs.

“The Black Country LEP has been instrumental in ensuring the project will deliver an employer-led training provision that doesn’t currently exist in the region, designed to improve productivity and growth in the high value manufacturing (HVM) sector.”

Councillor Claire Darke, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for Education, said: “This is another major milestone towards creating a European-leading Built Environment education campus in the City of Wolverhampton.

“This historic site, which has been vacant for over a quarter of a century, is being brought back to life by the University, and is part of the multi-billion-pound investment by the public and private sectors in our city.

“There is no doubt the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS), alongside the UTC and the relocated School of Architecture and Built Environment will help raise the bar when it comes to skills and employment in the city.”

Wesley Allmark, Construction Director at Aspect Construction, said: “The ECMS Hub is an exciting project to be working on with University of Wolverhampton.  Aspect Construction’s sensitive approaches to heritage and conservation works, with the support of our specialist heritage supply chain, ensure that we restore buildings to their former excellence, transforming the built environment.

“We’re really looking forward to working with the University and the local community on this exciting restoration project, helping to restore this building to its former glory.”

Terry Reynolds, Managing Director of Tweedale Architects based in Wolverhampton, said: “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. Our 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.”

Led by the University of Wolverhampton, the ECMS 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 including Dudley College, the Confederation of British Metalforming, Cast Metals Federation and the Institute of Cast Metals Engineers and Thomas Dudley Ltd.  The partners are investing an additional £4.15 million, bringing the total project value to £12.19 million.

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

Anyone interested in enquiring about manufacturing training, skills, apprenticeships or Continuous Professional Development (CPD) should contact 01902 321663/0800 953222 or email t.codner@wlv.ac.uk.