Kirklees College declared its Process Manufacturing Centre (PMC) open last week with over 60 project partners, local MPs, apprentices and its main funder, Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) attending a celebratory event.
Hailed as a ‘boost’ to the north by Northern Powerhouse Minister, Andrew Percy, it was awarded £3.1m capital funding through the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal - a £1 billion package of government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region. This was added to with funds from local and national businesses and donations in the form of plant, services and equipment, making its value around £5m in total.
Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy said:
“This government has invested millions of pounds to fund Kirklees College’s new Process Manufacturing Centre to help boost growth and create jobs in the Northern Powerhouse.
“The centre will enhance Leeds City Region’s reputation as a hub for manufacturing and will give students the best training possible to get a job in the industry. I would encourage anyone interested to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity.”
Over 60 partner organisations from the industry have made contributions and pledges to a value of around £700,000. The centre has a fully operational process manufacturing batch plant (2000 litre) with control room, remote tank farm and a semi-automatic packaging line. This gives students and apprentices a learning experience in a real process manufacturing environment. This is supplemented by four classrooms, an IT suite and learning resource centre.
The new centre has enabled the college to develop its curriculum in line with industry demands, both regionally and nationally. The college was selected by the National Skills Academy Food and Drink (NSAFD) to as a national provider for two Trailblazer Apprenticeships. These new Apprenticeships in Food and Drink Maintenance Engineer and Process Operations are two of the first of the new ‘standards’ to be launched under the reforms announced by government to achieve more employer-focused programmes of training.
The college is also providing these Apprenticeships for other key sectors including pharmaceutical and chemical industries. The college provides Apprenticeships in Laboratory Technicians and Supply Chain Management, working hand in hand with the college’s science and engineering departments, and covering all elements of the process industry’s needs. The centre currently has 70 apprentices on its books, which is likely to raise to 300 in the next few years.
June Durrant, acting principal of Kirklees College helped to initiate the centre’s development with local businesses BASF, Syngenta, Nufarm, Manrochem and YCF back in 2013.
June said, “We’ve worked very closely with a number of businesses in this industry to make sure we get the facilities and the training offer just right. We don’t see this as the end of the project but as a continuing partnership where we can be flexible in our offer, work with specialist businesses to shape the delivery of training and Apprenticeships.
“We have a lot of people to thank for their support for bringing this project to reality. We appreciate that the LEP have listened to their community and helped to fund a facility that we know is in demand and Kirklees Council have also been incredibly supportive of the project.”
Confronting Skills Challenges
Roger Marsh OBE and chair of the LEP said:
“When we first engaged with the College about this project, we could see the extraordinary potential this Centre has to address some of the skills challenges we face in our City Region’s manufacturing and engineering sectors.
“Bringing together private sector investment in the form of their technology, knowledge and machinery with the fantastic new learning environment funded by the LEP and College, this is a ground breaking initiative. The Kirklees College Process Manufacturing Centre positions Leeds City Region as a polestar for public and private sector collaboration in the North and will help confront our skills challenges and create future career opportunities for our City Region’s young people.”
Over the last three years, the college has worked with businesses who have offered a range of equipment, services and advice. One of those businesses was Projex Solutions.
Jamie Ashton, managing director at Projex Solutions Limited said,
“We are delighted to have been able to support Kirklees College in creating a state-of-the-art facility by applying our team’s specialist process manufacturing knowledge to the PMC project.”
The centre will be open for prospective students and apprentices, along with the college’s other centres on Saturday 12 November, 10.30-12.30pm.
Businesses interested in getting involved with the centre can contact the process manufacturing team firstname.lastname@example.org