Hundreds of workers across the West Midlands are being given the opportunity to upskill thanks to a new initiative by The Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology (IoT).

Companies can now access specialist training for members of staff aged 19+ on one of three Level 4 technical courses in Automated Machining, Robotics and Quality Assurance.

The £500,000 In-Work Skills pilot, which will be delivered at the Marches spoke of the IOT at In-Comm Training in Telford, is free of charge and can be completed part-time and in modules giving both staff and employers complete flexibility.

Topics have been chosen to reflect the changing needs of industry as they look to take advantage of new opportunities in advanced manufacturing and greener technologies, including the march towards electrification.

“Brexit and Covid has placed a lot of financial pressure on businesses and, in some cases, training budgets have been cut, meaning employees and bosses are missing out on vital skills development,” commented Bekki Phillips, Chief Operating Officer at In-Comm Training.

“The In-Work Skills pilot has been designed to bridge this gap and will give manufacturers access to high quality Level 4 technical courses at no cost to them.

“They will be delivered by our industry trainers, with content developed in conjunction with technical partners, such as the Engineering Technology Group and Bauromat. Furthermore, employers will also have a big say in shaping the focus, so it gives them exactly the skills they need to become more competitive and to win new business.”

All courses are Level 4, enabling individuals to access a higher level of training and will be delivered one day per week over a three-month period, beginning the second week of January.

Individuals will have to complete assignment-based examinations to ensure they have the necessary knowledge and understanding of the specialist topics, including modern machining methods, key principles of six sigma and robot cell design.

Eligibility is simply manufacturers based in the West Midlands, employees must be aged 19+ and the company needs to have a strong desire to upskill their workforce.

Bekki went on to add: “This is a great opportunity for individuals to learn new skills that will futureproof their career and potentially support future promotion opportunities.

“The blended learning, a mixture of face-to-face training and online supervision, means it is really flexible and it is rare that such a high-level programme can be completed without too much time taken away from the day job.”

About the Black Country & Marches IoT

The Black Country & Marches Institute of Technology is a new approach to delivering today’s technical education for tomorrow’s careers.

A vibrant learning environment has been created that leverages the capabilities of academia, employers and higher education, all geared towards providing high quality training opportunities with clear pathways to skilled jobs in automotive, advanced engineering, aerospace, construction, medical and renewables.

The IoT will help hundreds of local firms address recruitment and skills shortages, as well as giving thousands of individuals the chance to gain new ‘in-demand’ skills for modern industry.

It taps into the expertise of Dudley College of Technology, University of Wolverhampton, University of Worcester, Avensys and In-Comm Training for the Marches spoke of the Institute.