The Princess Royal opens new Technology Hub that will deliver vital manufacturing and engineering skills

Published:  04 April, 2017

Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, met apprentices, employers and business leaders when she officially opened EEF’s new Technology Hub in Aston, Birmingham recently.

The Technology Hub has been designed and equipped to replicate real-life modern engineering and manufacturing workplaces and will be responsible for delivering vital technical skills. It is the result of an ambitious multi-million pound expansion and forms a second site to EEF’s state-of-the-art technology training centre – also in Aston - which opened in 2014.

The opening of the Technology Hub will see the number of apprentices trained at the centre increase to over 400 a year. The new facility boasts 280 IT stations, £1.3 million of equipment and tools and has a wide range of areas devoted to developing technological skills, including robotics, electronics and rapid prototyping.

The Princess Royal was shown around the centre by EEF’s CEO, Terry Scuoler, and Neil Withey, EEF’s director of training. The tour included the centre’s industry standard CAD (computer aided design) suite, Lean Training room and industry standard tool room – believed to be amongst one of only a handful in UK training centres.

During her visit, The Princess Royal met a number of first year apprentices who talked to her about their apprenticeships, the skills they are learning and their future career ambitions. Amongst these was 19 year old Hannah Clarke, a first year apprentice at Ishida, and 19 year old Jack England, a first year apprentice at UTC Aerospace, who demonstrated the latest CAD packages being used by apprentices and showed HRH how 3D printing is now being used in design.

Earlier, guests heard from 19 year old Emily James, an award-winning manufacturing operations apprentice at Ishida, who talked about the important role her school had to play in encouraging her to pursue her career ambitions. She said that particular attention was paid to supporting girls taking STEM subjects, which are key for those looking for a future in engineering or manufacturing. Seeing articles and case studies of other female apprentices in industry also motivated her and now, with her employer’s backing, she enjoys helping to inspire other young women too.

Other inspiring young apprentices at Severn Trent Water, Ibstock, Jaguar Land Rover and Avery Weigh-Tronix also spoke about their own apprentice journey and experiences to-date.

The Technology Hub brings EEF’s total investment into its apprentice training centre in Aston to £12 million. The world-class facilities equip apprentices for a sustainable and exciting career in modern industry with the centre training apprentices on behalf of 93 different organisations and companies. This latest development will keep it at the forefront of new manufacturing and engineering technologies.

Terry Scuoler, CEO of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, says: “This additional investment into our purpose-built technology training centre in the Midlands – the very heartland of UK manufacturing – demonstrates our commitment to industry and our support for first-class apprenticeship opportunities.

“The facilities we offer are designed to fully equip talented young people for the high demands of a challenging and rewarding career in modern manufacturing. This is further underscored by the high calibre of employers we work with, who trust us to train their apprentices and provide them with the valuable skills and technical prowess that will drive business innovation and growth.

“We are proud of this investment and of the young people we train, who are to be congratulated for their dedication, determination and drive. I am delighted that The Princess Royal has helped us to mark this special day and I hope that this will help to raise even greater awareness of the superb opportunities available in UK manufacturing today.”

Hannah Clarke, first year apprentice at Ishida, says: “Meeting The Princess Royal was a great honour. I really enjoyed demonstrating some of the skills I’ve learnt as an apprentice and the cutting-edge technology we use in modern manufacturing today.

“So much emphasis is still put on going to university, but what today has hopefully shown is that apprenticeships offer young people an equally valid route into an interesting and rewarding long-term career. Being an apprentice is hard work and demanding, but it’s really worthwhile knowing that I’m learning skills that employers really value.”

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