40 more apprenticeship opportunities have been created after a Shropshire training academy invested a further £200,000 into new manufacturing facilities.


The In-Comm Training Academy Shrewsbury (ITAS), which is being run in partnership with Salop Design & Engineering, is set to benefit from new TIG, MIG and ARC welding bays, as well as a new fluid power section that will cater for students looking for a career in hydraulics and pneumatics.


Bosses have also just signed off a new cell that will specialise in automation and electrics meaning young engineers in the county will be able to choose from more than 15 different industry apprenticeships pathways.


“It has been a very encouraging first year for ITAS, with 28 apprentices currently in their advanced second year with view to having a positive impact at more than 10 local employers,” explained Richard Homden, Managing Director at Salop Design & Engineering.


“The skills gap is real and affecting thousands of manufacturing businesses in the UK…we knew we wanted to do something about it and not just rely on the Government to come up with the answers.


“We had space in our factory in Shrewsbury to house an academy and used our relationship with In-Comm to install the machinery and adopt some of the best training courses in industry. The first cohort is really excelling and I’m delighted to say we’ll be taking a further 40 budding engineers on in March and September.


“There is no doubt we are seeing more youngsters looking to the apprenticeship route as a real chance to earn and learn.”


In order to cope with the expected growth, ITAS has made two key appointments with experienced engineering instructor Dave Vickers and a welding specialist from the RAF

joining its ranks.


They strengthen a six strong-team of trainers who are all committed to bridging the ‘competency gap’, where training is immediately applied to real world situations.


Gareth Jones, Managing Director of In-Comm Training, commented: “The popularity of apprenticeships is growing rapidly and we are starting to see the first big employers look to partner with us at ITAS to make the most of the soon to be introduced levy.


“GKN Land Systems in Telford was one of the first participants and we are currently in discussions with another twenty businesses across Shropshire. ITAS is a fantastic resource for manufacturers and the further £200,000 investment, combined with the highly skilled team we have at our disposal, will make it even better.”


He said: “In addition to the foundation courses, we deliver advanced and higher craft/technical apprenticeships in maintenance, design, tool making, quality and machining.”


GKN Land Systems’ Graeme Howe added his support: “Working with ITAS has been a good experience, supporting us with the recruitment of candidates and guiding us in course selection to best suit the needs of our business. Feedback has been clear, quick and reliable and we are able to visit the well-equipped academy any time we like.”


ITAS, which is currently working with Thomas Adams School in Wem to offer day releases to Year 10 and 11 students, is closely aligned to the recently launched £3m Marches Centre of Manufacturing and Technology (MCMT) in Bridgnorth.


As part of the hub and spoke approach, the academy is able to access all of the facilities at the MCMT and vice versa depending on employer requirements