Competition is fierce within the engineering training sector, therefore those that want to succeed have to develop new strategies to differentiate them from the ordinary. This is the case at Midland Group Training Services, where multiple layers of training that can be tailored to individual company needs have been developed and can be provided on a local, regional and national platform. Investment in modern machine tools is central to this approach to delivering the best training for the current and future generations of engineers.

Midland Group Training Services has a history going back 45 years, over which it has trained 1000s of apprentices. Under the guidance of Chief Executive Lee Weatherly the Group, which has facilities in Coventry and Redditch, has a growing cohort of apprentices currently standing at over 200 per year. While offering apprenticeships and training in general engineering, Midland Group Training Services’ key focus is on targeting maintenance skills within the food manufacturing sector, counting many household names among its customers. “People are often amazed at the amount of engineering that takes place in what are seen as non-engineering environments, such as food manufacture. These businesses are not engineering driven, but are totally reliant on engineering to keep production running, so training to the highest standard is vital for these businesses,” says Lee Weatherly.

Like many training establishments MGTS provides basic NVQ foundation level training in turning, milling and fitting, what it calls its Bronze level. From this necessary foundation MGTS then differentiates from other training groups with its Silver, Gold and Platinum levels. Here employers are able to align training with their strategic ambitions, giving them a much greater return on investment. “This decision to add intensity to our training delivery came out of austerity, while others when faced with cutbacks reduced what they provided, we were determined to go the other way and enhance our programmes to deliver greater value. With our ability to tailor training as part of a strategic review with our customers we are simply giving the customer what they need after listening to what they want. In this way we are able to avoid any disconnect between training qualifications and industry.” At these higher levels it offers CNC Programming, extended CNC programming, machine tool maintenance, cutting tool technology and material science to its training modules. To better serve these it has entered into partnership with XYZ Machine Tools, which has supplied a number of machines to its Coventry and Redditch facilities, including manual machines, ProtoTRAK controlled lathes and mills and CNC turning and machining centres, including a CT52LTY Y-axis lathe and an XYZ VMC 710. These machines are at the vanguard of an investment programme that will see additional XYZ machines installed to add to the £250,000 already invested.

the excellent package of training and support that they offer we will certainly maintain the momentum and invest in additional machines.

“Working in technical partnership with XYZ Machine Tools is allowing us to develop our upskilling of training. They have a desire to share their knowledge with us and talk to us in educational terms, not purely machine tools. Add to that the excellent package of training and support that they offer we will certainly maintain the momentum and invest in additional machines,” says Lee Weatherly. “That said, we have no intention of following in the footsteps of others and investing in high-end, multi-axis machines. Our focus is on developing machine tool skills through manual machines to CNC and adding to them along the way.”

The partnership between MGTS and XYZ came about through the engineering training umbrella organisation Group Training Association England (GTA), where XYZ is a Premium Partner, offering support to member organisations. “At XYZ we recognise the importance of training and developing skills, which is why we are happy to invest our time and resources working with individual training establishments and associations such as GTA,” says John Aspinall, Education Sales Director at XYZ Machine Tools. “By being able to provide the range of machines and support that training organisations such as Midland Group Training Services require, which are making significant steps to change the way in which engineering skills are being transferred to a new generation, we are able to ensure that students can make the transition from manual, to CNC and be prepared for life back at their employer.”

This education message from XYZ Machine Tools is one that it sees as important and as a result it has found itself with machines installed at more than 200 universities, colleges and training establishments across the UK. To further enhance these working relationships XYZ has also created its Educational Partnership Scheme, which provides enhanced support including additional learning resources, from technical manuals to face-to-face training for technicians, trainers and students alike.

(Above) The XYZ machines installed at Midland Group Training Services provide a perfect transition from manual to CNC and also provide enhanced training in machining and cutting tool technology.