A new £1.2 million centre to train the apprentices of the future was today officially opened by JCB Chairman Lord Bamford.
JCB Academy is better-known for its school and sixth form, but it also delivers apprenticeship training for leading businesses across the region.
Now the new dedicated, hi-tech Dove Engineering Centre will deliver the academy’s apprenticeship training programmes.
On Wednesday, July 19, JCB chairman Lord Bamford unveiled a plaque at the new centre, which is housed in the former Dove First School in Rocester, to mark its official opening.
He said: “The JCB Academy has been exceptionally successful since it opened in 2010, changing the lives of young people and setting them on engineering career paths which will be exciting and rewarding.
“I’m delighted to be able to support the opening of the Dove Engineering Centre and to be invited to officially open the new facility.
"It’s an exciting new chapter in the JCB Academy story and it will continue the good work in developing the engineers and business leaders of the future.”
Academy principal Jim Wade said: "I want to thank Lord Bamford for his unstinting support for the work we undertake at the JCB Academy.
"Funding a significant chunk of this project is just one example. However, just as important has been the support for the work we do here and the commitment to stay true to our mission and vision.
"I would like to thank Lord Bamford for making this place possible and, as importantly, for giving many young people the chance to live out their own dreams and aspirations for a unique and special future."
Employers including JCB, Michelin, Alpha Manufacturing/Bri-Stor Systems, Orbital Gas Systems and Continental will use the training centre to equip their apprentices with the latest skills.
The centre has cutting-edge technology so students can undertake project using computer-aided design and mechatronics.
JCB apprentice manager Nigel Ward said: “The JCB Academy already delivers an excellent service in training apprentices, which will only be enhanced with the opening of the new purpose-designed centre.”
JCB Academy director of apprenticeship programmes Jim Bailey said: “The JCB Academy is delighted to be in a position to take the apprentice programme to the next level with the development of this fantastic facility.
"The opening of the training centre will add to the outstanding facilities that we have already at the JCB Academy.”
The former school building and associated land was bought by JCB, with £1 million conversion costs mainly funded by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
LEP chairman David Frost CBE said: “We are delighted to support this impressive new centre, which will provide our young people with excellent training in the advanced manufacturing and engineering skills that will be crucial for both their future and the future of our local economy.
“Encouraging our young people to develop higher level skills and creating more and better jobs are both key to creating a flourishing economy and thriving communities and ensuring that our region is a great place to live, work and do business.”