10 June 2016

Employers from all over Staffordshire and Derbyshire converged on the Leek Campus of Buxton & Leek College this week to view a new £3 million training facility for engineers.

Leekbrook-based Esterchem, Belle Engineering of Sheen, Momentum Recruitment and Training of Uttoxeter and Churnet Valley Precision Engineering Ltd from Upperhulme were among the companies who sent along representatives to tour the new facility, off Stockwell Street, Leek and learn about the new curriculum which has been developed to train the engineers of the future.

Business leaders were welcomed by college Principal Len Tildsley and enjoyed breakfast before touring the facility accompanied by Curriculum Leader for Engineering Kevin Shirtcliffe. Len Tildsley told them:

“Although this new facility has not yet had its official opening, it is already coming to the end of its first year of use. We are still developing our site in Leek and have invested £8.5 million here. This timber-framed engineering building cost £2 million and we have spent the best part of £1 million equipping it. Already we are looking at ways to expand the portfolio of activities we offer.”

Curriculum Leader Kevin Shirtcliffe said:

“We have just embarked on a total curriculum re-design for engineering. We have gone back to basics and increased the amount of time students spend in the workshops to give them maximum exposure to machining techniques.

“We still teach computer aided design but we do it in a hands-on way by getting students to design and build a radio controlled car to give them practical experience of laser cutting the chassis and manufacturing their vehicle rather than sitting in a classroom trawling through worksheets. We train everyone from school leavers to professional engineers. We can advise about training grants and funding for apprentices and do all we can to get new employees off to a running start in the workplace.”

Among the employer representatives was Richard Smith, Engineering Manager at Esterchem in Leekbrook. He said:

“I am very impressed with this training facility. We will always need engineers to maintain our chemical plant and, when we were looking to take on an apprentice this year, all it took was one phone call to Buxton & Leek College and they did all the work for us. I am looking forward to working with the college as I bring new, enthusiastic employees into our business.”

Martin Hall, Engineering Manager with Belle at Sheen, said:

“I came to this college myself 18 years ago and we have worked with them for many years. We are very committed to the apprenticeship scheme and have just taken on three school leavers. I think that the new training workshop is great. It’s a clean, modern facility.”

Buxton & Leek College boasts industry standard facilities, comprehensive support services, and a team of dedicated staff who take pride in supporting students towards their study and career goals.