Engineering workforce across Lancashire set to be digital masters thanks to Burnley College's successful funding bid for new training programme

Lancashire’s engineering workforce is now able to access specialist digital training thanks to Burnley College’s successful bid for funding through the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund.
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Expert tutors and trainers at the college have co-designed and are ready to deliver a programme (named Project Uplift) to help experienced manual workers transition into digital programming roles within the manufacturing sector, specifically within engineering.

This is the latest development in the college’s on-going mission to provide employers and individuals across all sectors with access to engaging and effective online training to take their skills to the next level.

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The Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund is a £3M pilot programme from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) delivered in partnership with the Manchester Combined Authority and Lancashire Enterprise Partnership.

Neil Burrows, Assistant Principal of Burnley College, with responsibility for apprenticeships, employer engagement and adult skills. (photo by Richard Tymon)Neil Burrows, Assistant Principal of Burnley College, with responsibility for apprenticeships, employer engagement and adult skills. (photo by Richard Tymon)
Neil Burrows, Assistant Principal of Burnley College, with responsibility for apprenticeships, employer engagement and adult skills. (photo by Richard Tymon)

It specifically targets disadvantaged groups and those under-represented to help them get into digital roles.

By focusing their FTF funding on highly-skilled engineers, who, due to their age have minimal skills in the digitisation of their work, Burnley College aims to upskill existing employees while preventing under-use of machines and potentially increase productivity within companies.

Neil Burrows, Assistant Principal of Burnley College, with responsibility for Apprenticeships, Employer Engagement and Adult Skills, said: “Nationally, the biggest challenges facing companies within engineering and

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advanced manufacturing is the lack of digital culture and training. There’s a tremendous pressure to be digitally advanced to remain competitive and be efficient in processes.

"Employers constantly tell us that much of their workforce, whilst highly skilled, learnt their trade prior to the digital age and therefore lack these skills.

“We’re delighted Burnley College will go some way to address this imbalance. We will work to roll this training out to the over-50s and those wishing to change their career but who lack the skills to move roles. Again, experience tells us that our employers often struggle to fill vacancies requiring specialist digital skills so this training will work to fill these gaps.”

The training will be provided through online modules and with mentor support. While experienced manual workers will gain transition into more digital, programming roles, it is expected the wealth of expertise they have in other aspects of engineering will greatly benefit the industry.

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Neil added: “Burnley College has close links with employers across the region and is recognised for providing award-winning apprenticeship and business training through Themis.

"We are investing in our region’s future, through building and delivering training that meets the needs of businesses across all sectors and increasingly makes use of the online resources many employers and employees alike have embraced over the Covid-19 period.”

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