Aston University Engineering Academy to set up a new jewellery skills training centre in Birmingham, helped by a half million-pound grant from the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity.
The new Institute already has the backing of 10 key local employers and will create a sustained talent pipeline for Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and will further boost Birmingham’s reputation as a centre for jewellery and metalworking.
The city’s Jewellery Quarter has more than 800 businesses, 100 specialist retailers and 50 contemporary designer makers and has been described by English Heritage as a ‘national treasure’.
The award from the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity, one of the 12 livery companies of the city of London, will help fund a new Goldsmiths’ Institute which is due to open in September 2024.
The new £1 million institute will be based in the AUEA’s new vocational skills building which is being funded by the Goldsmiths Landmark grant plus match funding.
Daniel Locke-Wheaton, principal of AUEA, said: “Students at the Academy will have the opportunity to learn and have design-based training including a dedicated post-GCSE Level 3 Jewellery qualification.
“The Institute will not only drive skills and design-based learning across Years 9 to sixth form it will have dedicated state-of-the-art workshops for goldsmithing, silversmithing and allied trades open to post 16 learners and the wider community.”
The grant was awarded following a competitive application process to access the Goldsmiths’ Company landmark programme funding, which was set up to celebrate its 700th anniversary in 2027.
Professor Charles Mackworth-Young, prime warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company said: “The landmark grants programme underscores the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity’s determination to increase the impact of our charitable giving and our enduring focus on the development of skills in our trade and beyond. The four grants announced today will help these organisations to achieve real change in the skills people develop and the outcomes they achieve.”
Aston University sponsors the Academy, which is situated near the edge of its campus. Professor Stephen Garrett, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, and executive dean of the University’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “The awarding of the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity Landmark project provides the opportunity to develop a new Goldsmiths’ Institute in Birmingham which will be part of Aston University Engineering Academy.
“Building on the success of The Goldsmiths’ Centre in London, the Institute will provide a direct skills training centre for students and staff, creating a sustained talent pipeline for Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter supporting the city’s young people to obtain the emerging and advanced skills needed to be part of the future workforce.
“This new development ties in with Aston University’s 2030 strategy and our commitment to embrace our city and enrich its cultural, physical and socio-economic environment.”
The new Institute already has the backing of 10 key local employers, including Fattorini & Co, Weston Beamor, Cooksongold, Hockley Mint and the National Association of Jewellers.
Tom Fattorini, owner, and director of Thomas Fattorini Ltd, said: “One of the biggest challenges facing Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter is the shortage of skills and recruitment of young people into our industry. The Goldsmiths’ institute is going to be critically important to ensure we have a pipeline of young people into the industry, including not just goldsmithing and silversmithing, but wider aspects such as manufacturing, chemistry, business, and logistics.
“The Goldsmiths’ Institute is one of the most exciting opportunities for many years, and we Fattorini’s, along with my fellow local employers in the Jewellery Quarter are delighted to be partnering with Aston University Engineering Academy and sixth form on this.”
As well as the physical site, the project will include the creation of a virtual Goldsmiths’ Institute. It will provide other university technical colleges (UTCs), schools and colleges with best practice guidance in the delivery of learning, teaching, and training in goldsmithing, jewellery and manufacturing, alongside wider creative design skills.
UTCs are supported by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust to deliver industry-focused training. Baker Dearing Educational Trust chairman Lord Baker said: “We are greatly excited by the potential of Aston University Engineering Academy’s new Goldsmiths’ Institute, made possible by the very generous Landmark Grant.
“Close working relationships with employers allows UTCs to deliver a relevant technical curriculum and enables companies to fill their workforce needs and benefit from fresh perspectives. This institute will provide solid-gold provision for young people and generate best practice for educators across the country, with the vital input of Birmingham’s world-renowned Jewellery Quarter.
“The Goldsmiths’ Company acts through a number of initiatives to encourage young people to fulfil their potential, so we are thrilled that AUEA has their support.
“This institute is another example of AUEA’s innovative provision and of the UTC programme’s tireless efforts to link the education we provide students with the skills that industry needs to grow the UK economy.”