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£14m manufacturing academy aims to train 40,000 a year

01 February, 2007

£14m manufacturing academy aims to train 40,000 a year

A £14m academy designed to raise manufacturing skills in the UK, has been launched by the Trade and Industry Secretary, Alistair Darling (below). The National Skills Academy for Manufacturing (NSAM) is one of a series of academies that the Government is setting up as part of a £90m programme to provide vocational education and training for school-leavers and adults, tailored to meet the needs of various sectors of industry.

The Manufacturing Academy will deliver courses designed by industry, for industry, with the aim of training 40,000 students a year by 2012. The scheme is being backed by some of the biggest names in UK manufacturing, including Rolls Royce, Ford, GKN, and BAe Systems.

The Academy`s headquarters will be Birmingham with local operations spread across the UK. Initial establishments in the West and East Midlands and the North East, will by followed by the other English regions by the end of this year, and by Scotland and Wales early next year.

Any college or training provider can apply to run Academy classes at their own sites, or on manufacturers` premises. Accredited larger firms will also be able to train smaller firms.

Announcing the Academy at Warwickshire College last month, Darling said that "raising skills has to be a national mission" if the UK is to continue to compete with the growing economic powerhouses of China and India. The NSAM, he added, "can be the production line for the next generation of highly trained, highly motivated manufacturing workers. The country needs them."

EEF, the British manufacturers` association, has welcomed the launch of the National Skills Academy which it believes can make a significant contribution to improving training quality and investment in training.

According to EEF director general Martin Temple, the NSAM "will help companies to be more confident in the quality and relevance of the training that they receive".

But the EEF adds that the Government must build on the recommendations of the recently published Leitch Review and reform the UK`s skills infrastructure.

"Government must grasp the nettle of simplifying the skills system and reform the cluttered landscape and confusion of bodies involved in skills at a regional level," says Temple. Similar academies are being established for the construction and financial services industries, and one for the food and drink sector is close to being approved. The Government has also received bids for academies to serve other sectors, including the chemical and nuclear industries.

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