The image of Cornwall being all beaches and pasties couldn’t be further from the truth as the county boasts a burgeoning high-tech manufacturing sector, with aerospace, medical marine and satellite communications sectors leading the way. This means there is a growing demand for skilled engineers and, the South West Institute of Technology facility located at Truro and Penwith College’s Truro campus is investing to meet that need. A recent £7.2 million investment has created a dedicated facility that includes an extensive machine shop equipped with multiple XYZ Machine Tools. The facility will provide training in CNC machining, toolmaking, mechatronics, fabrication and welding, taking students to HNC Mechanical and manufacturing Engineering, BTec and the new T-Level technical-based qualification developed to ensure that the skills developed meet the needs of industry while ensuring the student is prepared for the work environment, with an end-point assessment ensuring these criteria are met.

Andy Foulks (left) with final year apprentice Jon Gadd at the XYZ 660 HD vertical machining centre

“There is a huge demand for skills in the region and as a training provider we have to be able to deliver those skills. Therefore, our first job was to modernise the workshop, in fact we built a brand new facility. We then had to get rid of all of the stereotypical equipment and bring in the right machine tools to develop the skills of our students,” says Andy Foulks, Engineering Lecturer. “XYZ Machine Tools have bent over backwards in terms of the support that they have provided, from initial quotation through to machine installation and ongoing training and support. They are certainly customer focussed when it comes to the education sector with nothing being too much trouble. Our students are also welcomed at the factory for visits and additional insights and training on machines. Our role is to ensure that we keep up with industry requirements, hence the investment in CNC machinery.”

An overview of the machine shop at Truro and Penwith College’s South West Institute of Technology Valency facility.  

At the heart of the workshop is a selection of 21 machines from XYZ Machine Tools, ranging from the manual XYZ 1530VS trainer lathe and XYZ 2000 knee mills with digital readouts through ProtoTRAK controlled mills and lathes and a XYZ 660 HD vertical machining centre. “With the facility we now have we can focus all our energy on the students and apprentices to ensure that they are ready to add value for their employers. We have a lot of high-end, high-technology, companies in Cornwall and we strive to provide them with apprentices that can enhance their businesses.”

The rows of manual XYZ lathes and mills

With this array of XYZ machines available, the apprentices can make a natural progression throughout their time at the college. Furthermore, as part of the new Apprenticeship Standards they are working towards achieving the most up to date apprenticeship in the Engineering sector. Adding greater interest, the college is working alongside the Spaceport Cornwall, which is collaborating with other aerospace organisations, including Goonhilly Earth Station, Cornwall Council and Virgin Orbit, to deliver the UK’s first satellite launch from Cornwall in 2022. Along the way Truro College apprentices will be given the opportunity to be involved in machining prototype parts for the satellite. Truro and Penwith College has extended its connection with space and aerospace by creating the Cornwall Space and Aerospace Technology Training Project (CSATT), which is the first dedicated space training centre in the South-West, that will provide training opportunities for people in Cornwall covering apprenticeships through to foundation degree level courses.


“Projects such as this ensure that the time spent at college is a pleasure, not a chore and having the wide choice of machines from XYZ Machine Tools allows our students to develop their own projects, confidence and skill levels,” says Andy Foulks.

Nick Tillyer (Engineering Team Lead) who had previously worked with XYZ to develop training facilities at Truro College said “XYZ has proven to be a reliable and collaborative partner to work with, the consistent support coupled with solid advice and guidance had been critical to delivering our new facility. This is the second time XYZ have pulled out all the stops for us, I am looking forward to continuing our excellent working relationship with our new engineering and STEM centre in Bodmin which is due for completion in Q2 2022”.