New education secretary hails technical education on Sheffield university visit

New education secretary Gavin Williamson visited a Sheffield research centre to learn about manufacturing technology, training and apprenticeships - and said technical education had played “second fiddle” to traditional academia for too long.

Wednesday, 21st August 2019, 1:41 pm
From left: Chris Greaves, head of the IMG group, apprentice Rebecca Wright, Gavin Williamson and engineer Stephen Forte. Picture: AMRC.

The MP said he would make it a “priority for government ” during a tour of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

His announcement comes a year after university bosses ditched plans to double the size of the AMRC apprentice Training Centre to focus on traditional academia.

On the visit, Mr Williamson met apprentices who work in local companies including Boeing’s first and only European factory, in Sheffield.

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He said: “It is absolutely vital that we continue to grow the nations’ skills particularly in key areas like science, technology, engineering and maths so we have a workforce that is fit for the future.

“I am focused on making sure this is a priority area for this Government.

“I’ve been hugely impressed by what I have seen here today at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre.

“ What they are doing here at is a brilliant example of how one of our top universities is collaborating with global firms like Boeing as well as smaller employers to boost skills and jobs across the region.

“I would like to see more collaborations like this across the country.”

He also tried out augmented and virtual reality simulations and learned about a project to help small firms fit low-cost digital technologies to old machine tools.

Vice chancellor, prof Koen Lamberts, said: “We were particularly pleased to show the full breadth of what we have to offer - including apprenticeships, degree apprenticeships and undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses - and how they all contribute to an evolving education ecosystem.”

Chris Greaves, head of the AMRC Integrated Manufacturing Group said: “We are very grateful for the Secretary of State’s support on apprenticeships. Our success is down to our people and apprentices are very much key to that for us. We’ve been delighted with the apprentices that have come to us through the AMRC Training Centre.”