9 September 2016

Skills Training UK Academy for Business, Industry and Technology officially opens in Wolverhampton

Young learners rubbed shoulders with business leaders at the official opening of an apprenticeship training centre in the heart of the Black Country.

The Skills Training UK Academy for Business, Industry and Technology, based at the University of Wolverhampton Science Park, welcomed several high profile guests on Thursday, 8th September. 

Stewart Towe CBE, chair of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, was on hand to cut the ribbon alongside MP for Wolverhampton North East Emma Reynolds and Martin Dunford OBE, chief executive of Skills Training UK and chair of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP).

Stewart Towe CBE said: “The Black Country LEP’s vision is to improve education and skills within the local economy – and I’m delighted that Skills Training UK is helping to meet this aim through its new Academy.

“The advanced apprenticeships offered by Skills Training UK are directly relevant to local employers, offering young learners the chance to develop vital skills in the increasingly important areas of digital marketing and IT.

“It’s a very exciting time for young learners in the Black Country and I look forward to seeing how the Academy can help create a local workforce fit for the challenges of the 21st Century.”

Speaking at the event, Emma Reynolds MP said: “I think there is a cross-party consensus in the UK that vocational learning is just as important as academic qualifications. Any business worth its salt needs some sort of digital presence now, so I think what Skills Training UK are doing here at the Academy is critical to the success of each and every young person who comes through the door, as well as the success of the Black Country as a whole.”

The Academy’s first apprentices, who attended with their employers, were also presented with certificates to mark their achievements so far.

There are currently 56 young learners enrolled with the Skills Training UK Academy for Business, Industry and Technology, while 60 employers have signed up who are interested in recruiting an apprentice or have already taken one on board.

The state-of-the-art centre, which first opened its doors in April, offers two advanced apprenticeships: one in social media and digital marketing and another in IT, software, web and telecoms – both chosen to reflect the needs of local employers.

The launch of the academy represents Skills Training UK’s continued commitment to investing in the workforce of the West Midlands – with traineeship centres previously opening in Walsall and Dudley.

Martin Dunford OBE, chief executive of Skills Training UK and chair of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), said: “The Academy is our first to open nationally and we’re very pleased to see that it is already benefitting so many 16 – 24-year-olds by helping them to take that next step on the career ladder.

“Crucially, we work with employers to identify the skills that are needed most in their local area. Digital skills in particular are vitally important and highly valued.

“We’re delighted to be able to help young people – whatever their educational experience or social economic background – gain valuable experience in this fast developing sector and get their career off to the best possible start.”

The Skills Training UK Academy for Business, Industry and Technology provides classroom-based training for young people who are working towards an Advanced Apprenticeship qualification with a local employer. It also offers a Fast Track Traineeship programme to support those young people who need to develop their skills and confidence and gain some experience before embarking on apprenticeships, other employment, or further education.

As well as training their apprentices, the Academy offers employers a dedicated recruitment service to help them find the right young person. It helps with writing the job description, advertising the apprenticeship position, screening applicants and holding first round interviews before arranging a final shortlist for the employer. The apprentice also has a dedicated Skills Training UK trainer-assessor who visits them at work regularly, to mentor them.

Employers can also choose to offer work experience to a young person on the Academy’s traineeship programme, which can be an excellent way of seeing whether they might be a good fit with their business before progressing them to an Apprenticeship.

Ben Walley, aged 21, started Skills Training UK's digital marketing apprenticeship with local employer Genee World in June. Ben said: "It's been a really good, new experience and I'm enjoying every minute. I wanted to go in to marketing but had no previous experience or qualifications, so I thought the best way was through an apprenticeship."

For more information about the Academy, which is in Glaisher Drive on Wolverhampton Science Park, telephone 01902 837460 or email academy@skillstraininguk.com.

Photo caption: Stewart Towe CBE, chair of the Black Country LEP (centre), cuts the ribbon to Skills Training UK’s new Academy for Business, Industry and Technology in Wolverhampton. (L-R) Digital marketing apprentice Jamie Lowe, Stewart Towe CBE, Academy manager Elaine Wilkie, Emma Reynolds MP and digital marketing apprentice Ben Walley.

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