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The new T Level qualification route has been developed to more closely meet the technical skills required by industry today. With the explosion of Industry 4.0 technology, including additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies across engineering, manufacturing and many other industries, the T Level courses (particularly in the Engineering and Manufacturing T Levels), provide the opportunity for students to learn the relevant skills in additive manufacturing technology required by employers today.

Cheshire College South and West (CCSW) are one of the first FE colleges to take advantage of the various funding available to invest extensively in additive manufacturing technology and facilities to support their students and local business partnerships. They have worked with CREATE Education to set up and establish brand new Additive Manufacturing Academy with facilities at both their Ellesmere Port and Crewe Campuses. The college understood that CREATE Education was best placed to support them in this process as we specialise in supporting education and we understand the T Level and other FE course requirements and what equipment would best meet their needs (and the needs of the workforce) in the future, taking the stress and uncertainty out of the procurement process.

CREATE Education advised and supported CCSW on all aspects of setting up and established these sector-leading facilities including:

  • providing initial loan equipment and training so that the college staff could effectively evaluate the technology;
  • assisting the college with information to support their funding applications;
  • advising the college on which 3D printing technology would best suit their requirements;
  • supplying and installing the technology;
  • providing a series of staff training;
  • providing ongoing technical and curriculum support.

Our education advisor Chris Harrison has worked in partnership with CCSW to manage this project over several months. In this telephone discussion, Chris catches up with Mark Parsons, the Assistant Principal for Curriculum at CCSW to discuss the project and the college’s plans for the future.

About Cheshire College South and West

CCSW is a relatively new college resulting in the merger of two colleges in March 2017. It is the largest FE provider in Cheshire and Warrington with over 11,000 learners and 1,300 apprentices on roll. CCSW offers exciting opportunities to their learners to access high-quality teaching and learning across three innovative modern campuses in Crewe, Ellesmere Port and Chester.

The college aims to provide learners with the skills, experience and qualifications that will prepare them for their future career or higher-level study at the College or university. We encourage our learners to become confident individuals who will make valuable contributions to businesses and the local economy in their future careers. Students will have access to world-class inspirational facilities which are the result of a £140m investment in the latest technology and real work environments.

Why did you establish the Additive Manufacturing Academy?

“To further support and expand the digital infrastructure and support the design of a virtual Institute of Technology. The college will develop a technology hub containing specialist equipment. It will seek to transform and accelerate the development of advanced manufacturing skills across Cheshire and Warrington.” explains Mark.

“From the consultation and collaboration with employers and education, the college will continue to plan to upskill and reskill its existing employers and promote digital as a career choice of the future. This inspirational hub we have put in with CREATE Education in line with Industry 4.0 will be available to all, we even have a mobile additive manufacturing facility on a bus that can be taken out to local SME’s, schools and smaller training providers.”

“Here you can see how it’s actually embedded with our teaching and learning assessments from our entry-level right through to level four and five. In addition to that, you can see how it is embedded into the wider curriculum that isn’t normally thought of. Everyone thinks of additive manufacturing in engineering, but how it can be embedded in the new T Levels, in Construction, how we can use in hospitality, we’re actually now even using it in media makeup or prosthetics noses and media makeup artistry. So it’s a really exciting opportunity for us, and hopefully, we can inspire others like we’ve been inspired by CREATE Education.”

Working with Local Businesses

The college prides itself on strong links with local businesses of all sizes who benefit from tailored training delivered in the workplace or at College Campuses, and from their provision of a wide range of Apprenticeships such as Accountancy, Catering, Construction, Engineering and Dental Nursing. They work with many major local employers across the regions such as Bentley, Brownlow Furniture, Ecolab, Vauxhall Motors, Scottish Power, Unilever, Brunning and Price and National Grid.

“Technology is advancing quickly and existing workforces are falling behind, particularly with smaller organisations which may be preventing them from scaling up in the future. Medium and small businesses don’t always realise or understand the opportunities that industry 4.0 and digital technologies provide,” explains Mark.

“We are going to work closely with our SME’s on our work-based learning team and our larger organisations, looking at our curriculum mapping and offer, mapping it across to the industry requirements and looking at our 14-16 pipeline. As part of this, the college has developed this suite for additive manufacturing in addition to robotics and artificial intelligence. The equipment will be used to upskill and reskill the workforce and develop the pipeline workforce. The equipment will allow small businesses to try before they buy and explore new ways of working in order to future proof their businesses.”

About the CREATE Education Partnership

“A huge thank you to CREATE Education, I think that process and support that we’ve had at the college and me personally going through the procurement process has been fantastic. Throughout, there’s never been anything you’ve not been able to answer or support us with. The level of detail that we’ve received about each machine what we’ve looked at scoping, from the specs to the procurement process, to the negotiation, right through to installation and making sure that we have the right CPD. You weren’t just happy with just delivering some CPD and dropping off the equipment, you did that across all three sites and then anybody could actually contact you for additional support. I can’t be any happier with it. It’s been great support from the first time we came onto your site all the way through to the full install,” commented Mark.

CREATE Education has been delighted to support CCSW in establishing their remarkable facilities and as a CREATE Education Hub, the partnership with CCSW and their local business and education communities will continue as we support them in delivering their aims.

Please get in touch to see how CREATE Education can support your organisation in preparing for additive manufacturing in the new T levels and beyond or if you wish to take a look at the additive manufacturing facilities at CCSW.

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