New materials science academy set to up-skill workforce

A new ‘Materials Academy’ will be established today to provide students and employees with specialised courses dictated by industry needs to address the skills shortage in the workforce in materials science and engineering

The Materials Research Centre in Swansea University was prompted to create the Materials Academy as there are a significant number of industries and companies in Wales that manufacture and process materials, or rely on materials science in their day to day operations, but a shortage of people within the workforce with the relevant materials science skills.

The Materials Academy aims to collaborate with industry leading to a general up skilling of the workforce which will ultimately help secure sustainability and prosperity for Welsh industry. The Materials Academy is a collaboration between existing and new Materials science and engineering focused projects that exist within Swansea, Cardiff, Swansea Metropolitan and Glamorgan Universities and a number of large and small industrial partners. 

Associate Professor James Sullivan, Materials Academy Academic Director said of the Material Academy launch: “This is a really exciting time for us in academia – the Academy projects have really bridged the training gap between industry demands and academia’s supply. This demand led, flexible training in such a crucial area such as Materials Science and Engineering will hopefully yield positive results in the short, medium and long term.”

Jeff Cuthbert, Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Skills, and David Rees, Assembly Member for Aberavon along with more than 30 representatives from leading Welsh engineering companies are to attend the launch event where future possibilities for industry-led training and research courses offered by the University will be under discussion.

Mr Cuthbert said: “The approaches to learning and training adopted by the Materials Academy will make a difference at a time when students need to feel assured that their studies are taking them towards a career.

“The Welsh Government’s priority in these tough times is to create jobs and enable growth. The academy is supporting this aim through joint-working with industry to meet their skills needs, which will improve both the job prospects of students and the success of the industry.”

The new Materials Academy has created a range of courses on either a full-time or part-time basis, which can lead to a range of qualifications at various levels, allowing people to enter and exit at all points.  People can take part on work based learning to plug a specified materials science and engineering skills gap or choose to study for a degree, Masters degree on a full or part time basis and can choose to study for the doctoral qualification, EngD.

The Materials Academy provides training and outreach at the following levels through the following initiatives:

  • The Materials Live schools outreach programme features displays and road shows to encourage school children of all ages to take up STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) subjects.
  • The Materials Education Training and Learning (METaL) focuses on short, work based learning courses to companies in Wales with the aim to provide the workforce, who may have a non-standard academic background or qualifications in a different field, with fundamental materials science and engineering knowledge.
  • The BEng Materials Science Degree qualification is offered at Swansea University on a full-time basis and part-time at Swansea Metropolitan University.
  • Masters qualifications in materials, are provided on a full and part-time basis through the STRIP project and the Integrated Graduate Development Scheme (IGDS).
  • Doctoral training can be accessed is through the ESF and EPSRC funded STRIP, MATTER and COATED programmes.