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Over 30 institutions in England have been awarded a share of £6.1 million

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has been awarded £199,763 of funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Catalyst fund to help address skills shortages in Lancashire.

Over 30 universities and colleges in England have been awarded a share of £6.1 million from the fund, which provides targeted investment in projects led by universities and colleges.

UCLan’s share of the funding will be put towards the delivery of its Additive Manufacturing Education Programme (AMEP) which will train educators, address business skills and outreach to the engineers of the future.

Additive Manufacturing (AM) refers to technologies which build 3D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material to form the end product.

The project will respond to a shortage of skilled people within engineering and manufacturing in the county, to increase productivity within the AM sector by supporting the development of skilled people through teaching and learning activities.

It will work to address the outcomes of studies including the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Sector Skills Baseline Study (2015), which found critical issues facing the skills needs of the advanced manufacturing sector.

Part of the funding will also be used to build on work being done through UCLan’s DigitME project, to meet with local businesses and assess potential opportunities to carry out CPD and skills development to implement AM technologies for prototyping, tooling or manufacturing purposes.

Dr John Lonsdale, Director of Innovation and Enterprise at UCLan, said: “Additive Manufacturing is a key component of advanced manufacturing with the potential to accelerate innovation and productivity across many sectors in the UK.

“The rapid rise and disruptive nature of additive technologies has left a skills gap whereby specialists in additive manufacturing are limited and there is a requirement for a significant shift in engineering education in order to support the future of this method of manufacture.

“The HEFCE Catalyst Fund means we will be able to accelerate and expand the delivery of teaching and learning activities to address the skills gap and develop and sustain AMEP long term.”

Professor Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of HEFCE, said: “We were delighted with the quality of proposals received for this funding call and particularly the impressive levels of engagement between higher education and industry.

“This investment represents important support for the government’s Industrial Strategy. The funding will provide new courses and vital skill developments in key industrial sectors across the county, from which students, the workforce and employers all stand to benefit.”

In 2017, UCLan’s five-year Knowledge Exchange strategy 2016/17 was recognised as being one of the best in the country by HEFCE. The commendation was made by a panel of experts from national funding and policy-making bodies, based on an assessment and overview.

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