Coventry helps cast out oily-rag image

COVENTRY Technical College is helping the local industry to catch the skills bus and become more competitive.

The college's Mobile Advantage Project, run by Alan Hatcher, head of the engineering school, tours industrial sites in the West Midlands to support small and medium companies with design and training facilities. Launched earlier this year by minister for lifelong learning, Malcolm Wicks, the project has cost pound;1.1 million and was funded by the college, the European Development Fund and local industry.

The project's double-decker bus carries equipment that demonstrates virtual-reality manufacturing systems, while the lorry tows a manufacturing unit comprising robotics, hydraulics and electronics. During visits to the industrial estates, local firms cn hop aboard to try out the latest equipment and techniques.

It's hard for small firms to keep up-to-date, but the

college is offering itself as an information-broker to provide re-search and development facilities for manufacturing prototypes.

It can also help businesses use the Internet to access relevant software. Thanks to these taster

sessions, companies can be clearer about the training and facilities they want to buy to remain competitive, thus attracting new business into the college.

The project will also be working with Jaguar to promote the latest image of engineering at the Stoneleigh Show this year. It will show off the latest facilities and encourage people to forget about the out-dated oily rag image of engineering.

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