One of the UK’s leading independent training providers has secured a £429,000 boost for delivering advanced engineering and manufacturing skills.

In-Comm Training, which already supports 865 apprentices and over 2500 learners, has been awarded ‘Higher Level Skills’ funding by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) in a bid to help industry bridge the skills and competency gaps.

Accessed via the Training & Manufacturing Group (TMG), up to 126 learners in the WMCA area will be able to tap into modularised units for the first time, giving existing workers the most flexible opportunity yet to upskill.

These bespoke courses will be delivered at state-of-the-art technical academies in Aldridge and Telford and gives individuals the opportunity to study specific modules of the Level 3-5 Engineering & Management programmes tailored to ensure job progression and sustainable employment.

This includes project management, maintenance, electrical and fluid power and, thanks to In-Comm’s tie-up with Brandauer, learners can also complete a 20-week Level 4 Toolmaking apprenticeship at the UK’s first Precision Tooling Academy.

“This is the flexible type of training we have been looking to deliver for some time and the WMCA funding has now made it possible for skilled engineers to upskill even further,” explained Gareth Jones, Managing Director of In-Comm Training.

“By adopting a modularised approach for the first time, individuals can train on specific elements of the course rather than the entire qualification. This means they focus on the skills they need most at the time, whilst alleviating workload and time pressures.

“In our latest In-Comm Training Barometer released this summer, 59% of companies cited releasing staff as the biggest barrier to investing in training. We heard this message loud and clear and developed a modularised offer that WMCA recognised and agreed to fund.”

He continued: ““From a business perspective, you are not losing a valuable member of staff for extended periods but, at the same time, you are getting back a higher skilled employee. It’s a real win-win.”

The Higher Level Skills funding is available for any existing workers that live in the West Midlands Combined Authority area and looking to embark on Level 3 or higher training in engineering and manufacturing.

There are also opportunities to participate in a modularised and full ILM Level 5 Diploma in Leadership & Management, essential for developing the next industry leaders in a bid to ease the brain drain we’re seeing from ageing workers retiring.

Gareth went on to add: “We can be creative with how we deploy the funding and, whilst it is learner focused, there are opportunities for us to design bespoke programmes for companies.

“For example, there is a Level 3 Machinist and Fitters course we’re putting together that will help get new entries into the sector.

“Created in partnership with a large aerospace company, the Department for Work and Pensions and WMCA, this will fast track competences to access vital high-value jobs for the benefit of the sector and people in our region.”

The In-Comm-backed Training & Manufacturing Group is a collection of 100 like-minded businesses bound together by a commitment to achieve world class best practices and futureproof training to boost UK industry.

It harnesses twelve technical partnerships, with the likes of Engineering Technology Group, Hexagon Metrology and IMI Norgren, to give SMEs access to the latest technology and equipment.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, and Chair of the WMCA, said: “One of our region’s top priorities is to equip local people with the skills they need to succeed. Partners like In-Comm training are central to enabling us to do exactly that.

“In-Comm has a proven track record of providing high quality training in the West Midlands – improving the lives of residents and the prospects of the companies they work for.

“The modern world demands we deliver training in a flexible and business friendly way. This latest WMCA funding illustrates our ability to adjust accordingly.”

Clare Hatton, Interim director for Employment, Skills, Health and Communities at the WMCA, concluded: “We’re delighted to have In-Comm Training on-board to deliver higher level skills training in engineering and manufacturing to our residents and employers.

“Through our Plan for Growth, we have highlighted Advanced Manufacturing as a cluster set to see accelerated growth over the next ten years and this modularised approach will play an important part of the skills response to support this growth.”

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