The Faraday Battery Challenge (FBC) has appointed Newcastle University, in partnership with NCD, to receive £1.3m in funding to support the North East’s battery manufacturing and innovation sector and skills development.
The University will lead a workforce development initiative for the North East with innovative skills and training academy and apprenticeships. The programme will be delivered in partnership with New College Durham.
The funding supports the ‘National Battery Training and Skills Academy’, a collaboration project between Newcastle University and New College Durham.
The Academy will engage those in the North East with education and skills initiatives, training provision, battery degree apprenticeships, CPD and skills bootcamps, designed to ensure operators and engineers have the skills they need now and for the future It will feature innovative alternative training methods including and virtual reality technology.
The academy will also address the STEM agenda to help engage individuals, particularly school children and young people, supporting the Discovery Museum’s ‘Steam to Green’ exhibition, reaching approximately 320,000 school children.
Professor Colin Herron from Newcastle University's School of Engineering said: "The North-east hosts the UK’s only lithium-ion battery plant and with the real possibility of a second battery company opening in the future, there is a clear need for expanded workforce training capacity and capability. What is unique about our programme is that battery awareness will be brought to the general public and many thousands of school children by bringing the training capabilities of New College Durham, the public sector and Newcastle University together."
Andy Broadbent, Principal and CEO at New College Durham comments: “we’re thrilled to be part of this exciting project. We will be the key location for the hub that will provide training for L2, L3 and L4 qualifications. This will include a mix of full-time courses and apprenticeships. As an FE college we have a pipeline of students who we can engage now and from an early age with these new and exciting qualifications. This will ensure we have a long-term solution to addressing the skills gap that is currently present within this sector.”
The FBC, delivered by Innovate UK as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has awarded the funds to Newcastle University through its new £2.5m Battery Workforce Training Initiative. The initiative is aimed at supporting UK regional battery industry needs and focuses on vocational or technical skills development needed to ensure a proficient battery manufacturing workforce. Alongside Newcastle University, University College Birmingham has also been appointed via the initiative to deliver a skills programme in the West Midlands.
The initiative is also seeking to actively catalyse further investment into the development of regional workforces and, as a nation, ensure that the UK has the mix of skills, talent, diversity and experience required to compete on the global stage. Overall, the FBC is investing £541m in driving the growth of a world-class scientific, technology development and manufacturing scale-up capability for batteries in the UK.
Tony Harper, Challenge Director for the Faraday Battery Challenge, said: “As the UK ramps up its electrification transition the Faraday Battery Challenge recognised there are skills challenges needing to be addressed to meet the UK’s net zero commitments.
“With the right partners, these new support initiatives will unlock and accelerate the skills development of the national and regional workforces and ensure the UK keeps its edge as new technologies skills gaps are identified.”