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Ceremony breaks new ground in investment in manufacturing skills

The University of Wolverhampton has appointed Aspect Construction to build the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS) hub at the former Springfield Brewery in Wolverhampton (UK).

The landmark occasion, which took place on 6th March, the first day of National Apprenticeship Week, was marked by a ground breaking ceremony at the site where the building works are due to take place.

The ECMS hub and spokes will provide world-class training facilities and will support the delivery of apprenticeships through to degree level apprenticeships at the university. They will also focus on upskilling to support and help business growth, providing transferrable skills for other sectors in the Black Country, across the UK and internationally.

The Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) approved £8.04 million funding for the ECMS project with training being delivered in Tipton, Dudley, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.

Professor Ian Oakes, deputy vice chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “The Black Country LEP has been instrumental in ensuring the project will deliver an employer-led training provision that doesn’t currently exist in the region, designed to improve productivity and growth in the high value manufacturing (HVM) sector.”

Councillor Claire Darke, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for Education, said: “This historic site, which has been vacant for over a quarter of a century, is being brought back to life by the university, and is part of the multi-billion-pound investment by the public and private sectors in our city.

“There is no doubt the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills (ECMS), alongside the UTC and the relocated School of Architecture and Built Environment will help raise the bar when it comes to skills and employment in the city.”

Wesley Allmark, construction director at Aspect Construction, said: “Aspect Construction’s sensitive approaches to heritage and conservation works, with the support of our specialist heritage supply chain, ensure that we restore buildings to their former excellence, transforming the built environment.”

Speaking about the aesthetics of the site, Terry Reynolds, managing director of Tweedale Architects based in Wolverhampton, said: “The plans involve an L-shaped brick building which was constructed in the early 1880s and originally used as the brewery’s stables until, with the coming of motor transport, it was used as the brewery’s vehicle garage and repair shop.

“The current building has suffered from deterioration and dilapidation since the closure of the brewery more than 20 years ago. Our design aims to deliver high quality spaces for the provision of training, teaching and demonstration, and also includes welfare facilities and administrative offices associated with the operation of the centre.”

Work has now started on the building project and is due to be completed by August 2017.