A Black Country training provider has started a £1.5 million extension that will more than triple the size of its facility in Aldridge.
In-Comm Training has joined forces with prototype and manufacturing specialist Hyfore to develop an Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre next door to its current site.
Backed by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, the plan will create an additional 16,000 sq ft of space to be fitted out with tools, a robotics line, fluid power stations and a dedicated electrical and electronics section.
It will also house material testing, handling and grinding capabilities.
Gareth Jones, managing director of In-Comm Training, said: "Things are happening to bridge the skills gap but not many firms have thought about the competency gap and that involves looking at equipping firms in the West Midlands with the technical and advanced skills they need to make the most of global opportunities.
"This extension, which gives us a combined space of 21,000 sq ft, will address this issue and create a world-class training hub.
"This facility will help small companies gain access to application engineers and state-of-the-art technology that will allow them to product develop and process map prior to installing manufacturing cells into their factories."
Work is due to be completed during September to welcome a new intake of apprentices.
Hyfore's joint managing director Gary Dickenson added: "We need technically advanced employees coming through the ranks and our customers are saying something very similar.
"The UK has a great opportunity to be at the forefront of advanced manufacturing but we're not going to compete with our international rivals without ensuring the skills pipeline is expansive and delivering what manufacturers need.
"As an industry, we need to do our bit and our involvement in this Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre at In-Comm is a further commitment to generating the engineers of the future."
Stewart Towe, chairman of Black Country LEP, said: "The Growth Deal is helping the Black Country LEP to invest in and change the landscape of the whole Black Country.
"We are delighted to be working with partners, such as In-Comm, to develop the build of specialist training facilities to support hands on skills development across the advanced manufacturing sector."