Blog: All systems go for April opening of new Construction Training Centre

If you’re involved in the construction industry, there’s a good chance you’ve read or heard about our new Construction Training Centre.

If not, you may have caught sight of the scaffolding training ‘hangar’, which looms over you as you enter Weston from junction 21 of the M5.

So, with the opening day pencilled in for later in spring, it’s a timely opportunity to provide more detail about the facilities and the training that’ll be available.

First the basics.

The Construction Training Centre is Weston College’s new facility which will help tackle the growing skills shortage in the construction industry.

This project has enabled partnership work with Somax Ltd, who specialise in driver training across the South West. Somax will bring a wealth of industry experience and will deliver commercial short courses at the Centre.

As I’ve mentioned, it’s conveniently situated just off junction 21, and will mainly provide training at the point of need for businesses, their employees and private individuals.

The external and structural aspects of the buildings are virtually completed – and they’re hugely impressive; each facility purpose-built to deliver training in a specific area of the industry.

The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), have match-funded the project with some £3.3m through the Local Growth Fund, administered by the West of England Combined Authority.

The centre will essentially provide training in five key industry areas:

1 Plant operations

This will take place in a 1.5-acre area and include training in the use of construction vehicles such as 360° excavators, dumpers and telescopics.

2 Street and groundworks

This space will deal with preparing sites for grounds work. We’ll provide training for cutting into tarmac, laying foundations and pipework, installing drainage, coning off highways and setting up temporary traffic lights.

3 Scaffolding

The scaffolding ‘hangar’ is a 10 metres high by 40 meters long, and will share the building with forklift training.

As part of this initiative Weston College has partnered with scaffolding training and safety experts, Simian.

The most popular training in this area is likely to include the CISRS (Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme) Operative Training Scheme. More commonly known as COTS, this is a one-day course for people who are new to scaffolding.

After ‘COTS’ construction workers can progress to the CISRS Basic Access System Erector (BASE) training, and advanced personnel could move to the three-day CISRS Experienced Worker (EWPA) course.

4 Forklifting

A third of the scaffolding ‘hangar’ will be dedicated to warehouse-related training – such as counterbalance and reach truck forklift courses.

5 Logistics

The centre will also include a large tarmacked area where people will learn how to manoeuvre lorries, large passenger vehicles and cars with trailers. DVSA tests will be conducted from the centre and we expect the Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC) – a qualification for professional bus, coach and lorry drivers – to be popular classroom course along with ADR and Operators CPC.

We’ll also provide the standard health and safety training courses that everyone working on a construction site needs – including the H&S Awareness and CSCS Labourer Card. Personnel can then progress and specialise in the industry area they work in.

As well as the ‘practical’ training areas and equipment, the centre will include everything else you’d expect of a modern, state-of-the-art educational facility.

This includes a canteen, changing facilities, a reception area, staff offices, an IT suite, test and exam rooms, and up to seven classrooms. In fact the classrooms can be partitioned or opened out depending on what’s required – whether it’s a standard teaching session, meeting or mini-conference.

So, what’s left to be done?

Once the external building structures have been completed, we’ll focus on the internal aspects, such as fit-out and aesthetics.

The awarding bodies will then visit the centre to approve them for the training. After this, it’ll be a case of converting the extensive commercial interest we’ve received into bookings for the training.

Towards the end of last year, we held a series of ‘employer forum events’ to make sure we were on track to deliver the skills industry requires, and reactions to the centre plans were overwhelmingly positive, with employers genuinely impressed and excited about what the centre will offer their businesses and staff.

We’ve got an awful lot done in a short space of time, and we’re in the final straight. It’s now all systems go to get the doors open for business! If you’d like to get in touch to find out more please drop me an email or give me a call – or 01275 465555.