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£6m boost for construction skills

£6m is set to be invested in boosting construction skills in the West of England.

The West of England Joint Committee on Friday 1 June 2018 agreed to fund a new Construction Skills Centre in South Bristol, based at City of Bristol College.

It will offer training in construction skills to around 850 learners over the first three years, through Higher Apprenticeships and more traditional learning routes, providing much-needed skilled workers for the city and wider region. The centre will provide a brand-new, 2500m2 training facility on the doorstep of the college’s South Bristol Skills Academy in Hengrove Park.

The project was earmarked for approval a year ago and the Joint Committee today agreed to allocate funding, pending approval of full business case. It will be funded by the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the Local Growth Fund, administered by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). 

Professor Steve West, chair of the West of England LEP, said: “We’re a very successful region but we know there are skills gaps in some key areas, including construction. It is a vital contributor to our economy and we must ensure that we have a strong and steady pipeline of talent for construction businesses. My hope is that whilst training for today, we innovate and re-think construction for the future. We need to design and construct buildings in new and innovative ways using new materials and techniques if we are to really accelerate building homes for the future.”

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “WECA has committed to working with colleges, councils and businesses to help the construction industry fill the estimated 82,500 jobs that will be created by 2036. This new Construction Skills Centre in South Bristol, along with Bath College’s Somer Construction Centre in Radstock – also funded through the Local Growth Fund – will play a key role.

“We will also be working with the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) on a regional action plan to improve construction skills and availability of workforce.”

Lee Probert, Principal and Chief Executive at City of Bristol College commented: “This is great news for City of Bristol College but even better news for the people of Bristol. The new Construction Skills Centre, due to open in 2021, will offer immediate benefits to the city such as jobs in construction but also state-of-the-art training facilities and a variety of education routes that include apprenticeships, higher apprenticeships, university level courses and demand led training solutions for employers, for generations to come.

“We are grateful to the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership for their valuable support of this project and shared commitment to the ongoing development of education and skills in South Bristol and beyond.”

The Joint Committee is the decision-making body for issues relating to the West of England Combined Authority, Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils, and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

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