A unique industry/university partnership aims to provide tailor-made learning programmes to enhance competitiveness of manufacturing companies starting with those located in the North West.
The Trafford Park Manufacturing Institute involves Trafford Park Development Corporation, the universities of Salford, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, UMIST, the Open University and the Manchester Training and Enterprise Council, and a wide range of international manufacturing firms, including British Aerospace, ICI, FMC, GEC Alsthom, NIS and Siemens.
Michael Shields, chief executive of Trafford Park Development Corporation, said: "It is an industry-led institution which aims to meet the needs of companies. Industry is involved at all stages and we see our primary customer as the company, not the student as is the case in universities."
The institute will provide training for existing employees in manufacturing and offer postgraduate opportunities mainly delivered through multimedia workstations.
Barrie Boden, director of business development at the institute said: "It is not a business school or a management school. We will provide lifelong learning for people at all levels in a company."
Based at Quay West on Wharfside, Trafford Park, the institute will be a gateway to the collective academic strengths of the Salford and Manchester-based universities.
"Small companies can find it very difficult to approach universities," said Mr Boden. "They have to pick their way through the organisation and politics of the university. Now that can happen from the institute."
Postgraduate courses include UMIST's engineering doctorate and the Manchester Manufacturing Integrated Graduate Development Scheme, led by Manchester Metropolitan. Salford has also moved its Teaching Company Scheme to the institute.
Peter Montague, pro vice chancellor at the University of Manchester, said: "We have committed ourselves to continuing education and professional development but the problem is identifying the market. The institute will provide a marketing arm for the universities."