A new industry led, advanced technical skills centre providing training to the construction, manufacturing, digital and science sectors has opened near Cambridge.
The iMET centre, located in Alconbury Weald, will aim to address the identified skills gaps in the sectors by providing training for both the existing workforce and a pipeline of future talent.
This will be done through a range of apprenticeships and short training courses tailored to business needs.
iMET managing director Joanne Sainsbury said the centre was not trying to replace the work that colleges did, but provide an additional service which was business led.
“We are a specialist centre so we are not trying to duplicate what the colleges are doing, we’re trying to add to it,” she said. “We’re business led, so engineering consultancies and civil engineering firms are actually influencing the direction the training takes.
“70% of what I do is going out and talking to businesses and understanding what they do and what they need.”
The centre is currently looking to provide both digital and civil engineering apprenticeships tailored to the needs of businesses in the Cambridge and Norfolk area.
“The area around here has a huge skills shortage and not much uptake, so we’re trying to find ways to attract young people into the civil engineering world,” said Sainsbury.
It is also looking to run short courses in digital form in terms of coding which could be applied to the civil engineering design field.
Sainsbury said the centre also had two new digital suites which will have up to date software including both Bentley and Autodesk design software. This, she said, would address the “mismatch” of the softwares typically provided by education and the programmes actually used in the industry.
She also said she hoped to foster innovation and collaboration between the students in the different courses through the use of the 3D printers installed at the centre.
“My hope is that the 3D printers are used by everyone here,” she said. “Whether they’re looking at a road infrastructure system, a building system or a component for an F1 car, I want them to start to understand what it is they’re designing and making and hopefully take ideas from one another.
“The beauty of innovation is when you get people to talk to one another who wouldn’t normally talk to each other and you get new ideas formed.”