A degree aimed at bringing through the next generation of cast metal engineers is set to be launched this week. The Institute of Cast Metal Engineers (ICME) will host the National Industry launch of the Foundation Degree in Casting Technology at its headquarters in West Bromwich on Wednesday. The new Foundation Degree in Casting Technology is aimed at giving the students, who will be already employed in the industry and taught on a part-time basis, the technical understanding that they will need to allow them and the industry to compete and thrive into the future. It has been developed in conjunction with industry representatives from foundries including Newby Foundries Ltd, Goodwin Steel Castings Ltd and Chamberlin plc as well and companies that supply the industry, to ensure that the content of the programme serves the industry’s requirements.
Dr Pam Murrell, ICME operations director, said: “The lack of any specialist educational programmes for the industry in the UK and hence the shortage of younger, skilled technicians is of major concern and risks holding back development of the UK industry. We hope that this new qualification, which will be delivered on a part-time, flexible basis by Bradford College, with significant work-based projects, will begin to address these concerns.” Globally the castings industry produced more than 90 million tonnes of castings in 2006, a seven per cent increase on 2005, and the industry continues to grow year on year, so there are significant opportunities for those companies that can innovate and offer a high quality service to customers. Many of ICME’s members (who tend to be those individuals from the industry with higher qualifications) are now over 50, leading to concerns for the future competitiveness of the UK’s industry. The industry in the UK has contracted over recent years, from over 600 foundries in 2004 to just over 400 now which has made recruitment far easier in recent years from the pool of qualified and experienced individuals. However, these qualified individuals are reaching retirement age and, for the industry to thrive and remain competitive, higher qualifications need to be available to help to educate and develop the next generation of industry leaders.
The new Foundation Degree qualification will include modules on casting processes, methoding and design for casting, casting simulation and rapid prototyping and casting metallurgy and will also include subjects that will enable it to meet national standards for engineering including an element of maths and also materials’ science. Those completing the qualification will be able to register as engineering technicians on the Engineering Council’s register of Professional Engineers. The launch event will include guests from the industry as well as from all of the major industry associations. The launch is sponsored by West Yorkshire Lifelong Learning Network – WYLLN – a partnership of higher education institutions, further education colleges and other strategic organisations throughout West Yorkshire, committed to providing quality vocational learning opportunities.