Bridging the gap between employment and education and influencing future training needs for industry requirements are key goals of the newly-formed AMRC Training Centre Industry Advisory Board.

The IAB was established in 2016 to ensure the University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre’s apprentice programmes stays relevant and meets ever-evolving industry needs.

Anne Griggs, head of business development and contracts for the AMRC Training Centre, took up the post as chair at the start of 2022. She wanted to overhaul the board and appoint new members to ensure it is representative of the training centre’s employer base. 

New members include representation from Rotherham, Sheffield, Doncaster and Barnsley - as well as both an SME, a large employer and businesses who already employ degree, advanced and welding apprentices. 

She said: “The board provides a way for employers to be fully involved in the programmes we offer apprentices at the training centre and are able to provide an input on development, improvement, the training centre’s curriculum offer as well as creating relevant working groups to provide industry intelligence and requirements.

“We believed the board needed a complete overhaul in order to keep up with the demands of industry, and we asked for views from all of our current apprentice employers for advice on the role, format and frequency of when it should meet.”

Nikki Jones, director of the AMRC Training Centre, said employer involvement is vital for the training centre to keep in touch with industry needs.

“Our board is very well-represented in terms of industry heads, and it is fantastic to see all the different types of businesses now involved, which span from mechanical seals and support systems, mobile elevating work platforms and hydrogen energy solutions, to aerospace forming and fabricating, as well as precision engineering and energy-efficient ventilation systems,” she said.

“I am excited to see this board evolve and discover what contributions it can provide over the coming months.”

 A new appointment to the board is Lee Firth academy manager at electrolyser manufacturer ITM Power, which is based in Sheffield and is a key player in the green hydrogen revolution.

Lee said: “ITM is delighted to be invited to be a member of the industrial board. This further strengthens our relationship with both the University of Sheffield and the AMRC Training Centre.

“This collaboration will not only build on the excellent standards the AMRC offers, but will allow us to influence the future training needs linked alongside local and national business requirements.”

 Sophie Robinson, HR director for Radius Aerospace, which has UK bases in both Sheffield and Shrewsbury and specialises in the fabrication and manufacturer of aircraft structures, components, subassemblies and systems, said she’s delighted to have been invited onto the board.

“This opportunity is not only a great privilege for myself, but for the business as a whole, we are passionate about our partnerships into education to ensure we are supporting the growth of young talent in the South Yorkshire region into STEM - and the opportunities we can offer to build careers for the future striving to be an employer of choice,” she said.

 “I will be able to contribute to the board by sharing our company strategies and insights to the challenge we face as a business coming out of the pandemic, Brexit, the cost of living crisis and how these impacts will shape our training and development strategy going forward.”

 Jeremy Booker, director at Hedley Hydraulics based in Wakefield, passionately believes in having high quality education which attracts the best students and employers to use the services of the AMRC Training Centre.

He said: “The AMRC Training Centre represents one of the best in the industry for the provision of apprentice technical training and we need to nurture and encourage young adults to develop into skilled and engaged individuals.

“Being part of the Industry Advisory Board, I want to provide an industry perspective, bridging the gap between employment and education to focus on the best available resources.”

David Tuckwood, operations manager for Niftylift, based in Barnsley, said: “To be given the opportunity by the AMRC Training Centre and then selected to become a member of the advisory board is a huge privilege.

“To represent Niftylift and the wider welding and heavy engineering community, and the Barnsley area, is a great opportunity to provide feedback to the AMRC Training Centre of our training needs and to communicate the advantages it can provide to local school leavers through family members at Niftylift and the local community.

 “My aim is to bring my current knowledge and experience to support any challenges, debates and ultimately define solutions with the team to support the AMRC Training Centre and ultimately the students who are building their skills for the future.”

 Employers who wanted to join the board were asked to express an interest and were then selected by the training centre’s senior leadership team. The board held its first meeting in April and will meet on a quarterly basis.

The AMRC Training Centre Industry Advisory Board’s function is to:

  • To provide advice, guidance, support and challenge on the quality of provision delivered by the AMRC-TC, including self-assessment, preparation for and participation in inspection;
  • To provide advice, guidance, support and challenge on the development of the AMRC-TC’s strategic action plan;
  • To provide advice, guidance, support and challenge on the AMRC-TC curriculum offer so that it meets the needs of the manufacturing sector;
  • To participate in, where possible, relevant working groups to provide industry intelligence and requirements;
  • To receive and feedback on quarterly reports on the overall quality of provision, including success data and feedback on apprentice and employer views.