AMRC Training Centre steers new composite apprenticeship into South Yorkshire

The University of Sheffield AMRC Training Centre will become the first training provider in South Yorkshire to deliver a new composites apprenticeship in a move to sustain the longevity of the capability within manufacturing by creating its workforce of the future.

Together with McLaren Racing and McLaren Automotive, the AMRC Training Centre will deliver a new advanced level composites technician apprenticeship, in addition to the metallic machining apprenticeship the centre is already delivering with McLaren.   

Alongside McLaren, Wirral-based Teledyne CML Composites, who specialise in the manufacture of composites parts and assemblies on some of the world's most advanced aircraft platforms is also supporting the new apprenticeship – with the aim that more companies will come on board in the future. 

Nikki Jones, Director of the AMRC Training Centre, said it was a real pride point to launch the new apprenticeship, adding: “Working alongside McLaren and Composites UK, a need for such an apprenticeship was identified to help fill the national skills gap of people in composites due to an ageing workforce. 

“Composites has always been a capability the AMRC has had a big focus on and as its new building is underway to deliver a new programme called Composites at Speed and Scale (COMPASS), which is likely to provide a number of jobs in the region – we are acting now to build our expertise and capacity in composites to help supply the future workforce.

“Along with employers, we’ve put a new delivery model together to meet the needs of industry and we are the only people to deliver this composite apprenticeship in the region. This is something we are very proud of and we are excited to see this course grow.”

Piers Thynne, Chief Operating Officer for the McLaren Formula 1 Team, said: “McLaren Racing has led the way in pioneering advanced composite materials in our 60-year history. From being the first team to introduce carbon fibre to the F1 car, to trialling innovative and sustainable alternatives like recycled carbon fibre on track. 

“To continue to lead the way, we need the best talent at the cutting edge of composites. That's why we’re delighted to be working with our colleagues at McLaren Automotive and the AMRC Training Centre to add to our existing apprenticeship programme with this composites apprenticeship. 

“We believe in creating pathways for everyone to get into motorsport, which is why our early careers pipeline is vital to delivering the continued high-performance standards we set ourselves both on and off the track.” 

John Toner, Vice President and General Manager for Teledyne Aerospace and Defence Electronics UK and General Manager of Teledyne CML Composites, said: “Teledyne CML Composites are very excited to be part of the apprenticeship programme launched in partnership with the AMRC and McLaren to provide a market leading training pathway for composites manufacturing personnel. 

“The composites technician apprenticeship is a key part of our young employee training strategy that will yield the next generation of highly skilled composites experts and fulfil our commitment to the development of young people and sustain Teledyne CML Composites’ continued growth ambitions.”

Trade association Composites UK, which supports companies to enable them to grow and succeed in the competitive global market, said the new composites apprenticeship at the AMRC Training Centre is a pivotal tool in helping to meet the current and future skills challenges currently being faced by the sector.

Matt Bradney, Skills and Workforce Development Director for Composites UK, said: “Composite materials are critical in order for the UK to meet its net zero targets and composites is an exciting and growing industry for young people to be involved in. There are various entry points, a key one being the composite technician apprenticeship. 

“For the apprentice, learning and earning on the job is a great way to get a head start. For the employer, the new apprenticeship model launched by the AMRC gives flexibility in the delivery of the learning aspect, making it easier to get involved with a more efficient way to develop the workforce of the future.”

The AMRC, one of seven centres in the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, is working with other catapult centres to build industry-ready technology capabilities, alongside supporting the development of future engineers.

Steve Foxley, CEO for the AMRC, added: “The AMRC Training Centre is helping the manufacturing industry by training new composite apprentices who are vitally needed for the future, while making sure the courses tie into technology areas of growing importance, such as the ones seen in catapult centres including the AMRC. This capability is key for a growing number of businesses in South Yorkshire and beyond for their productivity growth.  

“It’s fantastic to see how the AMRC Training Centre continues to build on its industry-forward approach by adding another important learning capability to its ever-widening selection of subjects.”

Students who are undertaking the 36-month apprenticeship will engage in the production of composite components or products that are used in a range of applications, some of which include automotive, motorsport, aerospace, rail and renewable industries.   

The first cohort for the apprenticeship started last September, which includes an all-female group based at McLaren’s headquarters in Woking, alongside two other learners at the McLaren Composites Technology Centre (MCTC) in Sheffield. Opened in 2018, MCTC has established itself as a world-leader in lightweight carbon fibre construction for the automotive industry and is where the McLaren carbon lightweight architecture for the McLaren Artura high-performance hybrid supercar is constructed. Three more learners are placed with Teledyne CML at its base in Bromborough on the Wirral.