New Chief Executive forges ahead with manufacturing hub plans

The University of Wolverhampton has appointed a new Chief Executive to get its Elite Centre of Manufacturing (ECMS) hubs off the ground.

Ian Fitzpatrick, from Harborne in Birmingham, has joined the University from Exeter College where he was Assistant Principal with focus on apprenticeships and business development.

Ian has over 20 years’ experience in industry, starting out as an apprentice in the automotive sector before becoming a plant engineer and working for various large construction companies.  He ran his own successful business supplying plant and equipment services for the construction industry before moving into training and development.

He has worked with partners in the automotive and aerospace industries as well as being instrumental in developing the first training centre for motorcycles engineering in the UK – having set up the Harley Davidson European Training Centre when he was Faculty Manager at North East Worcestershire College.

Ian said: “We are working in a highly specialised sector that has an ageing workforce and which is suffering from a significant skills gap.  My priority will be to work closely with a number of partners to develop a curriculum that is current, relevant and right for the manufacturing industry.

“Our new dedicated ECMS centres will provide world-class training facilities and higher level apprenticeship pathways. We will also focus on developing vocational skills to support and help businesses to grow and flourish, providing transferrable skills for other sectors not only in the Black Country but across the UK and internationally.”

The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) approved £8.04 million funding for a new Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS) in Wolverhampton with training hubs due to open in Tipton, Dudley, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.

Led by the University of Wolverhampton, the hubs will provide employer-led training centres 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.

Ian is a lifelong Birmingham City Football Club supporter and when not on the terraces he can be found pounding the streets as he is a keen runner and triathlete.

The Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS) is set to open for business in August 2017 at the University of Wolverhampton’s Springfield Campus.

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. Demolition work has already started on a derelict building at the proposed site of the hub in Dudley Port, Tipton which will focus on foundry and patternmaking skills.

Collectively the manufacturing hubs will provide specialist training in Toolmaking, Foundry, Patternmaking, Metalforming, Forging, Manufacturing Management and Leadership and Project Management.

The University of Wolverhampton, alongside Birmingham City University and Coventry University, recently formed the West Midlands Combined Universities partnership  to provide the recently formed West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) with a powerful resource with which it can meet its objectives around skills, employment and productivity.