Technology centre to boost Cumbria skills and apprentices

Work has started on the construction of a multi-million-pound Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre based in Barrow, Cumbria.

The 1,300 square metre complex (pictured) at Furness College will host engineering and advanced manufacturing research and will take on up to 1,150 apprentices at a time.

Apprentices who are completing science, technology and engineering-related courses will have access to major employers in the local area including BAE Systems, Siemens, GlaxoSmithKline, Kimberly Clark and Centrica.

To help deliver the project, Furness College received a £1.2m grant from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

The centre is was designed by Harrison Pitt Architects and will be built by Thomas Armstrong Construction, which specialises in civil engineering projects.

Zoe Hooton, an architect at Harrison Pitt Architects, said the centre deliberately mimics facilities used by international manufacturers to provide students with the “specialist transferable skillset” needed by the sector.

“The new facility will put Furness College at the forefront of innovative manufacturing education and training, so it will really help plug the need for technically trained staff within the county,” she said. “It’s exciting to see the plans starting to take shape.”

A manager at Thomas Armstrong said that many of the area’s manufacturers were planning major facility expansions such as Siemens and GlaxoSmithKline who are constructing a new biopharma plant. He said these will require additional workers that can be sourced from the new centre.

John Woodcock, MP for Barrow in Furness, added: “Furness is standing at the threshold of enormously exciting times and the industrial expansion is going to require our young people to be equipped with the very best engineering and technological training.

“Once completed the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre at Furness College will be able to deliver those cutting-edge disciplines and I am hugely impressed by the work that has begun on this project.”

The project is due to be completed in May 2016 with apprentice courses beginning in September.

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