The Tamworth Automotive and Engineering Hubs will offer a range of courses for people from the age of 14 and ensure they can make the most of increasing opportunities in an ever-growing sector in Staffordshire. A £2million funding boost will transform the Torc vocational centre and part of the Tamworth campus of South Staffordshire College into a leading facility, which will complement expanding operations at JCB, the new Jaguar Land Rover plant in South Staffordshire and many other businesses.
Located in the former Torc Vocational Centre and the Tamworth campus of South Staffordshire College, the hubs will play a vital part in boosting skills to provide work-ready candidates for employment. This is a priority for both the county council and local enterprise partnerships.
The centres will continue to offer existing courses to 14 to 16-year-olds, but from September will be opened up to people of all ages who will be able to benefit from the new provision. Staffordshire County Council is investing £1million in the project, while new state-of-the art equipment will be installed thanks to a further £1million which has come as a result of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Enterprise Partnership’s Powerhouse Central City Deal announced recently.
South Staffordshire College already has links with a number of employers in the automotive and engineering sector. It is also working with Jaguar Land Rover to support local people in applying for semi-skilled roles at the company. This involves an introduction to engineering programme and a sector-based work academy. The hubs will also work to further increase the number of apprentices in Staffordshire. The development at Torc will also enable Two Rivers Special School, which shares the site, to expand.
Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for learning and skills Ben Adams said, “The creation of the engineering and automotive hubs and refurbishment at Torc is fantastic news for Tamworth and Staffordshire. This really demonstrates our commitment to increasing opportunity through skills development and that in Staffordshire we are seeing effective delivery through close working between councils, education providers and business.
“This centre will be one of its kind in this region. It’s vastly improving the learning offer at Torc and facilities for people attending courses. By having South Staffordshire College come on board to run the centre, it means the long-term viability is secured and the good links it already has with businesses can be expanded and strengthened.
“The funding to fit out the hubs with equipment to aid learning shows that the City Deal has had an immediate impact and is supporting ours and the LEP’s priority in increasing skills development.
“We very much look forward to seeing the new centre up and running and making a real difference to people and business.”
South Staffordshire College Principal Graham Morley said, “The College is delighted to expand the engineering, automotive and construction provision in Tamworth through these two hubs and is committed to working with schools, the local community and business to deliver the skills that employers need. The equipment provided will allow state of the art automotive and engineering facilities and training to be made available to learners of all ages in Tamworth. It is great news for the town and for Staffordshire as a County”
Tony Goodwin, Tamworth Borough Council’s chief executive said, “I am delighted to see this investment into the Torc Vocational Centre which will provide vital opportunities for young people in Tamworth and meet the skills needs of potential employers.
“One of our key strategic priorities is to raise the aspiration and attainment levels of young people and this will help us to achieve this. We have been working closely with Staffordshire County Council, South Staffordshire College and schools to make this a reality and the investment into Torc is key to this.
“Tamworth Borough Council also set up an Education and Skills Board which works closely with headteachers and other organisations to allow us to openly discuss the main issues schools across the borough are facing – and by working together – coming up with solutions.
“This investment should also give young people in the borough a real boost as it opens up new employment opportunities and, which in turn will help them shape their futures.”
The initiative is a further boost for South Staffordshire College, having completed a new campus in Cannock in January of this year, being confirmed as the most successful College in Staffordshire and having received a Good OFSTED grading in April 2013.