The branch was pleased to host an evening recently for the Apprentices and their Tutors from the new National Foundry Training Centre, so that Members could find out more about what is now on offer from Foundry Training Services Ltd.

Branch President Mark Holliday Prof MICME welcomed members and guests to the evening and thanked those present for supporting the students and staff who would be making presentations. Mark then introduced Eddie Lindsay FICME and David Hall Prof MICME and explained their role as tutors to the students.

David began by explaining that until recently there had been no facility in the UK dedicated to foundry specific education and training.  Realising how badly the lack of foundry training could impact on the future of the industry, ICME started planning to develop its role as a training provider. In 2013 the Institute partnered with Dudley College to offer a Diploma in Casting, with the syllabus written by ICME members, and followed this by opening a training centre at Newby Foundries in 2015.  From these early beginnings a major leap forward was achieved when the brand new National Foundry Training Centre was opened in Tipton.  He explained that this was part of the Elite Centre for Manufacturing Skills.  The first cohort of apprentices had started in November 2018 and a second in September 2019.  This facility based in the West Midlands  was not just for local foundries but was the centre for foundry training for the whole of the UK.

Currently there are seven tutors, all of whom have a foundry or patternshop background, with between them, in excess of 250 years of experience.  All the tutors were passionate to help safeguard the foundry industry in the UK by helping develop the future leaders through a programme of education and training. Each was prepared to give their time and effort to obtain the necessary qualification to allow them to teach apprentices.

Seven students from the 1st cohort each gave a presentation giving details of their backgrounds and experiences, as well as some information about their companies, and went on to explain the benefits they were reaping from attending the Training Centre.

They were:

James Perry of Bridge Foundry;

Joseph Rawding of South Lincs Foundry;

Elias Costas of Phoenix Pattern and Tool;

Benjamin Smith of Simpsons Patterns;

Ethan Davies also of Simpsons Patterns;

Dennis Hewitt of Leicestercast; and

Brandon Jones of SKF Cooper

They each made mention of the experiences they had gained whilst at work, but also noted how being at the training centre had helped them learn about the wider industry – they would have had little knowledge of this were it not for the opportunity of attending formal education and training at the training centre.

A short video showcasing the Centre was shown which featured the fantastic equipment available, with moulding, melting, patternmaking, quality control and casting simulation in the IT suite.  Each student was able to say that what they learned in the classroom could be backed up with practical experience.  This, they felt, enabled them to broaden their knowledge and experiences which in turn would benefit both themselves and their companies.  It also has given them the knowledge to start making plans for future career development.

Rounding up the presentations David Hall reported that there were currently 3 cohorts in training and by the end of 2020 they expected to have 48 students on the program – this was incredible given how recently the programme had commenced.

He noted that to continue to be a success, the initiative requires the support of the industry.  Companies must continue to provide the apprentices and support the Institute and its branches.  The training centre will also need to find additional tutors as numbers in training grow.

The National Foundry Training Centre was also able to to offer the Diploma in Casting to anyone from the industry, as well as a number of foundry short courses, of which there are 11 new ones with all the delivery provided by Foundry Training Services Ltd.

He noted that in the future, and by partnering with Cranfield University, it was also hoped that there would be foundry specific education available up to level 7, at a Masters level.

Branch President Mark Holliday gave the vote of thanks to the all training centre staff and students, and then invited all those present to enjoy the buffet which had been kindly co-sponsored by the Cast Metals Federation, CMF, and Foundry Training Services Ltd.