Workforce for the Future - Digital Learning Factories

The National Composites Centre (NCC) is offering SMEs in the West of England Combined Authority region the opportunity to develop their digital capability for free, as part of the Workforce for the Future programme.

Digital Learning Factory training modules created by the NCC, GKN Aerospace and the Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) will give businesses and their employees 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.

Five modules will be delivered to SMEs 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).

Immersive Technologies

Immersive technologies combine the physical world with the digital, and can offer increased productivity and efficiency to businesses.

This module is an introduction to the data visualisation tools and methods currently available to best present data to operators, designers and managers.

Delivered by the NCC. 

Course dates:

  • 16th & 17th May
  • 21st & 22nd June
  • 18th & 19th July
  • 26th & 27th September

Introduction to Robotics

An introduction to robots, characterisation and hands-on experience of robot programming, including introductory Robot Operating System.

Delivered by Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

Course dates:

  • 9th & 10th May
  • 19th & 20th June

Creating an Internet of Things (IoT) Network

Read more about Creating an Internet of Things (IoT) Network

Creating an Internet of Things (IoT) Network

An Internet of Things (IoT) allows you to connect objects, like robots, to share data between them. Using this data, you can find out how efficient your production system is and make improvements as necessary.

This module will explain what an IoT is, how to efficiently set out your requirements and how physical networks are established.

Delivered by the NCC. 

Course dates:

  • 6th & 7th June
  • 27th & 28th June
  • 12th & 13th September

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.

Delivered by the NCC. 

Course dates: 

  • 23th & 24th May
  • 4th & 5th July
  • 19th & 20th September

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.

Delivered by GKN.

Course dates: 

  • 7th & 8th June
  • 11th & 12th July

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.

Chief Executive of the West of England Combined Authority Patricia Greer said: “The pandemic has brought about huge changes in the way we work and has accelerated the need for new technology and digital skills to help businesses to adapt and grow.  Workforce for the Future is helping businesses across the region upskill their staff giving them confidence to apply their new skills to the workplace and helping businesses to thrive.”

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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