Modules confirmed for Digital Learning Factories

25 April 2022

The NCC, GKN Aerospace and Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) have finalised the Digital Learning Factory modules that will be available to SMEs for free as part of The West of England Combined Authority’s Workforce for the Future programme.

The training modules are designed to give businesses and their employees the opportunities to develop their digital capability, and the understanding and confidence to apply digital technologies in the workplace. The learning modules combine practical, problem-solving exercises and critical reflection, which will enable participants to use their new experience straight away.

The five modules being offered are:

  • Introduction to Robotics: an introduction to robots, characterisation and hands-on experience of robot programming, including introductory Robot Operating System.
  • Smart Bench: a Smart Bench transforms a workstation into a digital and interactive environment. This module will cover building a business case for a Smart Bench, integrating a Smart Bench into your business and programming a Smart Bench.
  • Creating an Internet of Things (IoT) Network: define what an IoT is, how to efficiently set out your requirements and how physical networks are established.
  • Data Collection and Display: Digital Engineering hinges on data collection, display and analysis to provide the input for decisions. This module will help you pick apart sources of data within a manufacturing environment how they are measured and how they are displayed.
  • Immersive Technologies: this learning factory will introduce currently available data visualisation tools and methods to best present data to operators, designers and managers.

The modules are designed to complement each other, with the recommendation being that each SME attends at least three of the two-day modules. An initial digital diagnostic will be given by the NCC, to help guide SMEs to the courses that best suit their requirements. This will incorporate an overview of the wider Workforce for the Future programme, and an action plan will be provided after the diagnostic session detailing the most relevant next steps.  

SMEs are asked to register their interest via the NCC website.

Modules will be delivered throughout 2022, in collaboration with GKN (training delivery partner), BRL (training delivery partner), Business West (skills diagnostics partner) and the University of the West of England (skills diagnostics partner).

Workforce for the Future is a free support service for businesses and individuals in the West of England. The £8m programme helps businesses develop employees' skills, understand how they can meet their current and future skills needs and attract, develop and retain talented people. It also supports local residents to upskill and improve their career prospects. The West of England Combined Authority and the European Social Fund (ESF) co-fund Workforce for the Future.

The NCC – part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult - is delivering Workforce for the Future on behalf of the West of England Combined Authority in collaboration with GKN Aerospace, Bristol Robotics Laboratory, Business West and the University of the West of England. Through its involvement in DETI, 5G-Encode and Smart Factory Innovation Hub programmes, its state-of-the-art 5G industrial test bed and engineering capabilities will build the digital skills and technologies the region needs to ensure the current and future workforce is digital-ready.

For more information on Workforce for the Future, please contact the West of England Growth Hub. The Growth Hub is the West of England Combined Authority’s dedicated business support service which offers free, one-to-one advice and guidance for SMEs.

The West of England Workforce for the Future programme has received £4m of funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit

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