Skills Capital Equipment Fund


The LEP funded Skills Equipment Fund (SEF) allows local employers and training institutions to submit bids to secure funding to purchase state of the art equipment to enable the delivery of high quality and high level training programmes to support the growth in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s priority economic sectors.

Two rounds of the SEF have been launched to date awarding grants of £2.3m with £2.7m private investment to 7 projects. The specialist equipment purchased is targeted to support the growth of over 900 apprentices.

Round 1

The projects funded in round 1 include the following:

1. Newcastle & Stafford Colleges Group – Advanced Manufacturing Mechanical & Electrical Centres (AMMECs) – Total project £958k (£480k grant, £480k match)

The project supports the development of Newcastle & Stafford Colleges Group’s advanced manufacturing mechanical & electrical centres at its Stafford and Newcastle campuses and the provision of cutting, simulation & measurement equipment for its Science & Technology Centre. The equipment for the Technology Cente includes a fibre laser cutter, CNC lathe and mill, a benchtop machining tool and 3 d printers.

The college’s AMMECs supports the development of its hybrid and electric vehicle provision and the equipment includes hybrid and electric cars to be used for training purposes, hybrid car diagnostic stations and an electro hydraulic lift. The project is targeted to grow learner numbers by more than 200 once fully completed.

2. Staffordshire University – Staffordshire Apprenticeship and Skills – Embedding Technical Capabilities – Total project £760k (£380k grant, £380k match)

Staffordshire University secured £8m Catalyst funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) towards a £17.1m project to create a Digital Apprenticeship and Skills Hub.

This project provides specialist equipment for the Hub to allow for delivery of higher and degree level Apprenticeships through digitally supported teaching and learning sessions. Equipment includes IT equipment, software and licenses.

The central software is a digital employer portal. The employer portal is a key mechanism to ensure all employers can easily engage with the apprenticeship offer. The 24/7 interface not only enables employers to identify and explore current opportunities, but also shapes future schemes by providing details of upcoming skills demand (whether broad or specialist) to ensure the university can evolve and tailor its programmes to meet employer needs.

The portal will also provides employers with access to real-time information regarding their current apprenticeship provision including schedules, content and performance, ensuring they remain informed of, and able to influence ongoing delivery.

In addition the project supports the purchase of specialist clinical skills equipment to include training manikins that may be programmed to display acute and crisis situations allowing the students to intervene in a safe environment.

The project also supports a fabrication lab to provide equipment for digital and electronic prototyping, mechatronic and robotic devices to allow the students to complete structures and sub-assemblies, models and test rigs. The project is supporting the university to grow its Higher Apprenticeship numbers by almost 400 by September 2019.

3. Stoke-on-Trent College – Technical and Curriculum Development Project (The Heat Academy)– Total project £144k (£72k grant, £72k match)This project provides specialist equipment to enhance its provision offer in advanced manufacturing, construction, construction technologies and civil engineering. The college has purchased equipment including an industry standard multifunction polyethylene welding machine, lathes and accompanying pressure tools. The specialist equipment also supports the development of training to support skills needs arising from the District Heating network.

The project is growing learner numbers by over 200 and engage an additional 60 employers in curriculum design and delivery.

4. Perkins Engines Stafford – Manufacturing Excellence Centre – Total project £767k (£583k grant, £350k match)

The project will support the completion of a new training facility to enhance the skills of its apprentices and other employees in core engineering practices as well as the Caterpillar production system curriculums.

The facility will provide the training area for assembly and core manufacturing process principles to support the existing key machining training facility recently opened. The principal item of equipment will be a simulated work environment (SWE) training facility.

The SWE is an assembly line that carries partially completed products to facilitate the assembly and disassembly of a product. The SWE can introduce faults at different stages of the operation to replicate the shop floor production and training includes the identification and remedy of the faults in a safe training environment. The project will support the growth of 32 Apprentices by December 2019.

Round 2

The projects funded in round 2 include the following:

1. South Staffordshire College – Cannock Engineering Academy – Total project £1m (£500k grant, £500k match)

The project has seen a refit of a floor of the Cannock Skills and Innovation Hub (the former SSC Cannock campus) to create an engineering academy. Previously there was no engineering provision in the district offered by a further education college. Specialist equipment has been purchased, including CNC lathes and mills, drills, mechatronic equipment. Cad software offers learning provision on a range of engineering principles including: welding and fabrication, manufacturing, mechatronics and computer aided design.

2. Newcastle & Stafford Colleges Group – Hybrid Construction Technology – Total project £1m (£500k grant, £500k match)

Specialist equipment supports the development of hybrid construction training at the college’s national construction plant training centre at its Stafford campus. The college is one of only 12 centres in the whole of the UK to provide specialist training in heavy construction plant. The equipment supports the delivery of advanced apprenticeship frameworks in plant maintenance, plant operation, civil engineering plant and construction. Equipment includes heavy plant, dumper trucks, excavators, crane, scissor lifts, tractors, rigs.

3. Stoke-on-Trent College – Academy of Technology & Digital Skills – Total project £400k £200k grant, £200k match)

The project supports the development of the college’s academy of technology and digital skills. Virtual reality equipment, Huawei software and 3 D printers to enable learners to develop data models that can be turned into virtual reality 3D environments to create and test product prototypes in the engineering and construction sectors.

The project will reduce material cost and waste and carbon footprint.  It aligns to the digital, advanced engineering and construction sectors promoting the benefits of using new technologies through training and awareness raising.

The virtual reality equipment is capable of rendering or displaying 3D and normal content from existing and proposed design applications from a range of sectors; games design, construction, engineering, sport and health science.

The installation will be used as part of an employer innovation hub and as a teaching resource for IT students enabling them to develop their skills in the development of VR and 3D modelling activities and the use of specialist software.

The aim is that students will support employers in developing their ideas and bringing them into a virtual environment through use of the 3d immersive technology available with the equipment detailed in this technical specification. It is also anticipated that clients and partners will work with students sharing their data for the college’s learners to model appropriate designs to be demonstrated to the companies involved.