When the AMRC Training Centre opens in October, it will notch up a series of ‘firsts’ for the region.
For the first time ever, there will be a straight forward pathway that could take someone from school through a manufacturing apprenticeship and on to university studies, professional qualifications and continuing professional development.
About half of the first intake will be apprentice machinists, with the rest studying to become mechanical and electrical engineers, but the AMRC Training Centre doesn’t intend to stop there.
The apprentices will be the first to be registered with a professional body from the day they start training. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has already embraced the idea, with the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Institute of Metals likely to follow.
The centre is also launching the region’s first apprenticeships in polymers and composites in addition to qualifications in metallurgy, fabrication and welding, with an emphasis on high-integrity welding for the nuclear sector.
The metallurgical apprenticeship will be the first step on the region’s first dedicated metallurgical pathway.
Apprentices will start by learning metallurgical techniques and the skills needed to provide technical support and could go on to learn about manufacturing methods, heat treatment, the properties of materials, including liquid metals, steel casting and metal extraction.
There are plans for courses covering business administration for manufacturing and in robotics and automation, with a bias towards the food industry.
The robotics and automation course will be another first for the region and will be the fruits of a collaboration involving the AMRC Training Centre, Chesterfield-based industrial automation specialists Knight Warner and the Doncaster-based Centre for Food, Robotics & Automation, CENFRA.
The training centre is developing qualifications in quality control, testing and inspection, technical support and a qualification in commercial technical sales that will be a first for the UK, combining an engineering qualification with foreign language skills and an understanding of export regulations.
When it comes to bridging the gap between practical training and the academic world, the Training Centre has persuaded Sheffield University to develop what will be its first foundation degree, opening the way for apprentices to secure undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications.
Other pioneering developments include supply chain training that focus on procurement and not simply distribution and new centres of excellence for forging and polymer technology.
The AMRC’s acquisition of Castings Technology International and its links with companies such as Sheffield Forgemasters, TATA, ATI and IFA mean the training centre can call on significant casting and forging expertise, which it plans to use to develop a series of master classes in the field.