Having recently written about the precarious situation in which further education currently find itself, it’s great to be able to discuss a far more positive subject.
Our newly built Construction Training Centre has been open a few months now and has, so far, met with universal approval.
There’s a good chance you’ve already seen the centre as it’s visible as you enter Weston from junction 21 of the M5. But if not, let me tell you, it’s a hugely impressive sight – particularly the vast ‘hangar-style’ building, which is used for scaffolding training and warehouse-based activities, such as forklifting.
The centre also provides courses in plant operations, highways and groundworks, and large vehicle driver training.
As well as the purpose-built practical training areas, the centre boasts six classrooms (which ‘open out’ to form meeting rooms), an ICT suite, CSCS testing facility and canteen.
The centre was developed in response to the growing demand for a trained and skilled construction workforce in the region. With that in mind, the training has been developed with employers’ requirements in mind – namely to provide the skills business’s need, when they need them.
And we’re already seeing the benefit of this approach, with bookings for training – from employers and individuals – already exceeding expectations.
Not only that, we’ve been inundated with positive feedback on the facilities, and the quality and range of the training.
Among the reasons for the construction sector’s widening skills gap is the scarcity of specialist training facilities across the country. To illustrate the point, before our centre opened, there was nowhere in England to train scaffolding workers between Plymouth and Birmingham. Our centre – conveniently situated off the M5 – provides businesses and workers in the south west region with a purpose-built resource on their doorstep (comparatively).
This is particularly important given that the region will be home to a number of nationally significant developments over the next decade.
But as with any development of this nature, it wouldn’t be possible without the support and input of a range of partner organisations, including North Somerset Council and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership.
Likewise, the project has benefitted from our long-running relationship with Midas Construction, who were commissioned to build the centre. They understand the College, our priorities and how to provide the learning environment that students and businesses need.
Another key partner in the development are scaffolding training and safety experts, Simian, who deliver CISRS scaffolding training and other related health and safety courses at the centre. Simian are world leaders in the sector and their expertise has enabled us to develop these outstanding facilities and offer sought-after courses.
Although it’s still early days for the centre, the signs are extremely promising – and that’s great news for students, employees, businesses and the wider construction industry.
Dr Paul Phillips CBE
Principal and CEO