New construction skills centre opening in Oxfordshire
A new centre specifically designed to train apprentices in the construction industry is set to open in Bicester next year.
Launched as part of Abingdon & Witney College’s apprenticeship programme, the £1m refurbishment of four former warehouse units on Churchill Road will form a new Construction Skills Centre.
The facility, being built by Speller Metcalfe, will provide opportunities for apprentices to train for the fast-growing property maintenance sector, alongside traditional professional trades in plumbing, electrical installation, carpentry and joinery.
The first cohort of apprentices will start in February 2021.
Jacqui Canton, deputy principal of Abingdon and Witney College, who will become the principal in September, said: “We are absolutely delighted to get approval of the centre. We’re grateful for our partners because it couldn’t happen without them.
“In Oxfordshire you can see the amount of building going on at the moment. There’s such a shortage in infrastructure workers. Training for the future is needed.”
Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) secured £934,611 of funding for the project via the Government’s Local Growth Fund.
Since its inception in 2011, OxLEP – with its partners – has secured more than £650m of Government funding for Oxfordshire, which has seen more than 50,000 new jobs created in the county.
The Construction Skills Centre will house the type of industry-standard equipment that apprentices will find in the workplace, including a professional gas centre, electrical training bays for wiring regulation training and a large carpentry workshop.
Apprentices will be supported by the college’s Ofsted Outstanding apprenticeship team and will be taught by industry experts.
Work on the centre started at the beginning of July and is expected to be completed by January 2021.
Ms Canton added: “We have a really long track record for apprenticeships so we’re excited to bring this to Bicester.
“There will be over 100 places every year, including apprenticeships for adults. Particularly with the coronavirus leaving many without jobs, it is a really good opportunity for them to look at a career in a new sector.”
Adrian Speller, technical director at Speller Metcalfe said: “The construction skills shortage has been a very real issue for our industry for many years, and we are delighted to be working alongside the College to deliver a purpose-built facility that will benefit both the local community and the industry as a whole.
“Sadly support for adult apprentices can often be in short supply but they are an incredibly valuable asset – often bringing many transferable skills – so this Centre will be invaluable in supporting a wide pool of apprenticeships, from traditionally younger students through to those looking for a new career path.”
The new centre is set to complete in the autumn and open to students in early 2021.
Photo credit: Arkwright Park