Michael Fallon sees first-hand BMW's £750m MINI investment plan.
The Oxford plant is the birthplace of the MINI – and this year celebrates a century of car-making.
On Friday 31 May Managing Director Frank Bachmann and several first-year apprentices gave Mr Fallon a tour of the plant, including its recently-opened state-of-the-art training facilities.
New investment at the factory represents the lion’s share of BMW’s £750-million UK investment programme, which involves building an extension to the bodyshop and implementing technological upgrades to its paintshop and assembly operations.
Three UK plants have a part to play in MINI production: Hams Hall makes the new MINI petrol engines, Plant Swindon produces body pressings and sub-assemblies, and all this comes together at Oxford with body shell production, paint and final assembly.
More than two million cars have been made at the Oxford site and 80 per cent are exported to more than 90 countries around the world.
Investment in apprenticeships
Apprentice Natalie Murray, 23, showed Mr Fallon around the plant. Natalie is studying a three-year engineering course and said:
Over the last year I have learnt so much, including mechanical principles, hydraulics, pneumatics and electronics. One of our most recent projects has looked at how to build electronic circuit boards, and that’s what we showed the Minister.
I’ve always been interested in engineering and the apprenticeship at MINI Plant Oxford is an ideal way to turn theory into hands-on practice and build a career at the same time.