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West College Scotland, in partnership with Renfrewshire Council, has secured significant funding to start an exciting new project that will unlock the benefits of Manufacturing 4.0 technology for SMEs across the west of Scotland.

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“The Critical Engineer” will create a regional skills hub to enable SMEs to access the opportunities that using  the latest Manufacturing 4.0 technologies can bring to their businesses.  This will be achieved through a combination of online, college and work-based learning whilst increasing access to expertise, equipment and collaboration with other businesses.  The project is part-funded by the 2014–2020 European Structural and Investment Fund; supported by a funding package of £740,445, including £370,222 from the Advancing Manufacturing Fund and £100,000 from Renfrewshire Council.

The project will provide a number of key services, including:

  • Bespoke analysis of skills, planning and opportunities for learning and technical training, personalised to the SME and business sector
  • SME business engagement and support to identify and develop the culture & skills to thrive in a Manufacturing 4.0 operating environment
  • Training in advanced manufacturing technologies, including application of CNC, PLC and robotics
  • Development of digital and meta skills for SMEs workforces
  • Brokering collaboration opportunities between SMEs, companies and academic institutions and building skills pipelines to advanced manufacturing

Liz Connolly, Principal & Chief Executive at West College Scotland commented:

This significant investment from AMCF enables West College Scotland and Renfrewshire Council to  ensure our regional SMEs contribute towards the national vision for advanced manufacturing and thrive and prosper in Manufacturing 4.0. The services provided by our ‘Critical Engineer’ project will equip SMEs with access to the necessary business support, technology, training and innovation partnerships. In doing so, it will unlock opportunities for investment and bridge the gaps in technology and innovation between advancing and advanced manufacturing in the west of Scotland.’

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson said:

Manufacturing is a hugely important sector for the local, regional and national economy and will play a critical role in recovering from the impact of Coronavirus. We’re excited to be developing Scotland’s home for manufacturing innovation, the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland (AMIDS) and this new partnership project with West College Scotland will enable us to offer local manufacturers the chance to upskill their workforce, tap into the latest technologies and support their business for future challenges and opportunities.

*The Advancing Manufacturing Challenge Fund is a partnership between the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise. A full list of successful projects is available on the AMCF website. Total investment is £15.8 million, with £8.3 million from the European Regional Development Fund, £590,000 from the Scottish Government, and the remainder in match-funding from the chosen projects.