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Skills support

Black Country Skills Factory - developing skills in high value manufacturing

The Black Country Skills Factory is a Local Enterprise Partnership initiative aimed at addressing skills shortages in the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) sector in the Black Country.

The Black Country leads the way as England’s largest concentration of HVM, with 5,000 businesses and 90,000 people employed in the sector.

A lack of appropriate skills, succession planning, an ageing workforce, changes in technology and a decline in apprenticeships are some of the challenges faced by employers in the HVM sector in the Black Country.

Course brokerage

Up-skilling the existing workforce through training is the primary option for most companies looking to address these skills needs.

The Skills Factory works in conjunction with local colleges and training providers to develop a programme of technical engineering and innovative leadership and management (new) bite-size courses that are employer-led – some of which are brokered by us, as well as external courses that we sign-post to.

“We had been unable to find a credible training provider for our requirements. The Skills Factory sourced exactly the metallurgy training we needed.” John York, QHSE Manager, BST Supplies Ltd  

BEng (Hons) Manufacturing Engineering

Created expressly with the needs of industry in mind, this two-year accelerated degree developed by the University of Wolverhampton is ideal for companies looking to up-skill their workforce with minimal disruption and maximum impact.

The Skills Factory has worked in partnership with the University to develop the course delivery structure to make it more accessible for companies to accelerate the up-skilling of their workforce whilst enabling employees to gain a career-enhancing qualification.

University attendance is every Friday and twelve Saturdays per year, ensuring that a significant proportion of students’ time is spent in the workplace and project assignments are real projects that are set by the employer.

“The BEng Manufacturing Engineering degree is a great opportunity in which companies can develop the talent they have in-house, and will help to facilitate employees becoming the next leaders and managers of their organisation. We’re pleased to have worked in conjunction with the University of Wolverhampton to help reduce the burden on employers”. Colin Parker, Director, Black Country Skills Factory


Increasing the number of Black Country HVM SME companies taking on apprentices is one of the key targets for the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Skills Factory project. Apprenticeships are a valuable way in which to increase skills in the workforce and help to eliminate skills gaps in industry by encouraging and growing new talent in the area.

The Skills Factory is supporting employers who are looking to take on engineering apprentices by offering impartial advice and support and signposting to local colleges or training providers based on their needs.

Employers who have a specific type of apprentice in mind, who will require training on a particular type of machinery (i.e. CNC machine), can contact the Skills Factory who will help identify the relevant training provider(s) in the region and signpost accordingly.

"We chose the apprentice route as we have been trying to get skilled people but there is such a big skills gap in the industry. LEMA sorted out all the training so we don’t have to worry about anything.” Paul Reeves, Director, 3D Tooling Technologies Ltd

Learn more about the services offered by the Black Country Skills Factory by visiting our website or follow us on Twitter.

Contact us

Contact Colin Parker on 07944 268709 or email

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