Ireland is to get a ground-breaking training centre focussing exclusively on equipping workers with the manufacturing and technology skills at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution.
The Louth Meath Education Training Board's (LMETB) Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Training Centre of Excellence (AMTCE) is the flagship project in a €17m Border Enterprise Development Fund, announced by Business Minister Heather Humphreys yesterday
It is one of 11 projects in counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth sharing the fund, which is part of the Government's €28m Brexit Stimulus Package.
The AMTCE is to receive €4.5m and will be located in the Xerox Technology Park, Dundalk, Co Louth. It plans to take in more than 1,600 trainees in 2021, and to grow numbers by 10pc a year.
Advanced manufacturing is the use of innovative technology to improve products or processes. It drives company resilience, higher value jobs and downstream employment.
The AMTCE will provide a strategic approach to ensuring industry has the skills to take advantage of new technologies, with bespoke training and support programmes in areas such as robotics, augmented reality, automated visual inspection systems, 3D printing and data/analytics.
As the first such facility in Ireland, the AMTCE will replace the need to send employees to similar centres in places such as Coventry in the UK and Germany.
The centre is the brainchild of LMETB chief executive Martin O'Brien who spotted the opportunity to strengthen the north east's manufacturing engineering capability.
The crucial first step was to get into play for a share of the fund. Enterprise Ireland does not normally accept applications from ETBs and, exploiting legislation underpinning ETBs, Mr O'Brien succeeded in having the criteria changed.
The project is a partnership with Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Education and Skills, SOLAS, Dundalk Institute of Technology, the Irish Manufacturing Research Centre (IMR) and Fastrack to Technology (FIT) alongside a number of local industries such as Dromone Engineering, Combilift, Wuxi Biologics and robotics company Kuka
There is also an important cross-border dimension with support from the University of Ulster and the Portview Enterprise Centre, Belfast.