The ECMS Project is an employer led training facility designed to support the development of productivity and growth in SMEs. The Project is focussed upon those organisations operating in the high value manufacturing (HVM) sector, but this has now been extended and the ECMS is now able to work with any SME operating in UK.
ECMS funding was provided by a grant from the Black Country LEP/Midlands Engine, awarded to the University of Wolverhampton as Project Sponsor, working in collaboration with several key organisations in the Black Country region. Though a unified formal working agreement between these organisations was never achieved, the Project still retains these relationships through a range of other mechanisms. The University remains as the sole grant holder and subsequently holds responsibility for any associated Project risks.
Project objectives are to increase HVM employer engagement and investment in training and skills development, including the upskilling and multi skilling of existing staff; to develop management and leadership skills; product research, support and development to assist in addressing the ageing workforce agenda and to improve the pipeline from education to employment.
Funding drawn down from the Black County LEP by the Project was used to build and develop two operational Hubs from which to deliver support. One of these Hubs is based at Springfield Campus in Wolverhampton (below). The second, based at Tipton (below) is home to the National Foundry Training Centre (NFTC).
The Centre at Tipton is primarily used to deliver the Level 3 Apprenticeship, “Metal Casting, Foundry and Pattern Making Technician Course” on behalf of Dudley College. A number Fixed Assets in the shape of 3 welding machines were also originally purchased using project funding and are now installed at Dudley College and used for training purposes.
As part of the University of Wolverhampton the project also has access to the Telford engineering campus academics and researchers. A range of support is available from the ECMS in addition to training and development courses. Support includes Business Assist provision which comprises 12 hours of free assistance to eligible organisations and which can take many different shapes and could include a Training Needs Analysis or a Process Review for example.
Support can also include free room hire at either the Springfield Hub or the NFTC, subject to availability, or access to other specialised facilities including a Metallurgy Laboratory and a Sand Laboratory. ECMS is also able to provide links into a range of other organisations including the University. It is regularly able to offer access to training without charge.
Project Priorities moving forward are to:
- Ensure that output delivery satisfies the requirements of the grant therefore providing assurance that public funds are utilised transparently and for the purpose intended in accordance with the grant agreement.
- Address industry skills gaps both regionally and nationally, supporting and servicing industry needs.
- Create a financially sustainable and agile business model for the ECMS to be able to operate and grow post grant i.e., 2025 onwards.
All ECMS staff are employed by the University of Wolverhampton.