Sunderland College and Envision AESC partnership to create Maintenance Technician apprenticeships

World leading green tech company Envision Group and Sunderland College will create dozens of manufacturing Apprenticeship opportunities as part of a billion-pound boost to the UK’s automotive industry.

Plans have been submitted by Envision’s battery technology division, Envision AESC, for a £450m battery manufacturing plant at the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) in Washington which will create more than 750 green jobs and safeguarding 300 more at the company’s Sunderland base if approved.

Construction on the Gigafactory – which will be the largest facility on the IAMP – is scheduled to begin in 2022 to support the production of batteries to power up to 100,000 electric vehicles a year from 2024.

Strengthening an already successful collaboration, Sunderland College is working with Envision AESC to recruit Maintenance Technician Apprentices to boost its highly skilled maintenance teams and help produce current and future generation L-Ion batteries into the expanding Electric Vehicle (EV) market.

So far more than 150 applications have been received for the positions, with 20 Apprentices appointed to start in the coming weeks.

Iain Nixon, Vice Principal for Partnerships and Commercial at Education Partnership North East which includes Sunderland College, said: “We are delighted that Envision AESC is investing to expand their production of lithium-ion batteries here in Sunderland and are look forward to strengthening our established and successful partnership.

“The expanded Apprenticeship programme will support the creation of new green economy jobs which will enable young people and adults across the North East to build and secure a sustainable career with a forward looking and growing business like Envision AESC.”

In July Envision AESC announced a partnership with Nissan and Sunderland City Council to build an electrical vehicle hub to support next-generation EV production and accelerate the transition to net-zero carbon mobility.

Expected to be the UK’s first at-scale battery manufacturing plant, with state-of-the-art technology and powered by 100% renewable energy, the Gigafactory will pave the way for potential future investment of £1.8bn generating 4,500 new jobs through the supply chain.

Envision AESC UK Managing Director, Chris Caygill, added: “One of the main positive outcomes from the Gigafactory investment is the creation of 750 new high value jobs in this growing technology sector.

“Hiring and developing apprentices is a key part of our strategy to ensure our future workforce is ready to support the significant scale up in our operations. We are delighted to continue our partnership with Sunderland College who will deliver the training programme for our apprentices, including the first cohort of 20 who will be joining this September.”

Ahead of submitting the planning application, a public consultation was carried out with local stakeholders and residents with 80% of those consulted on the plans offering positive support for the project.

The 150-hectare IAMP was created by South Tyneside Council and Sunderland City Council in 2014 to attract business investment to the region, with enabling works carried out in 2018.

Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, added: “Envision AESC will create high-quality jobs for local people – green jobs, producing green products, supported by green energy to power green cars.

“We’re delighted that this project is moving forward and will continue to play a pivotal, proactive role in supporting job creation in the area.”

George Mansbridge, Corporate Director for regeneration and environment at South Tyneside Council, added: “It’s a huge step forward and we’re thrilled that – so soon from announcement – the project is moving forward with this planning application that will pave the way to create a facility that will initially create hundreds and then thousands of new jobs for our residents.”

IAMP has been backed by the UK Government through the Local Growth Fund through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) towards infrastructure including new roads, bridges and environmental enhancements to support the development. The Local Growth Fund resource is supporting major capital investments to promote innovation, economic and skills infrastructure and sustainable transport as part of the North East Growth Deal.

Helen Golightly, Chief Executive at the North East Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “The North East is set to play a leading role in the UK’s transition to a greener economy, as we work towards achieving the government’s Net Zero target.

“With our existing skills base, supply chain and infrastructure, the addition of Envision AESC’s Gigafactory will further cement the North East as a leading light in renewable energy, and we are looking forward to seeing it take shape and bring more and better jobs to our region.”

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