City of Bristol College celebrated the grand opening of its brand-new £9m Advanced Construction Skills Centre with its leading civic partners and sponsors.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris, Bristol South MP Karin Smyth, UWE Bristol Vice-Chancellor Steve West, Midas Constuction Ltd’s Group Business Development Director Andy Smith and Vistry Partnerships’ Managing Director Marc Thompson joined City of Bristol College’s Chief Executive and Principal Richard Harris and Chairs of Governors Peter Rilett for the official ribbon cutting on the new Centre, which opened to the first cohort of students in September.
The launch event also welcomed representatives from Bristol City Council, Hays Recruitment and CITB.
Vistry Partnerships are the headline sponsor of the Centre and have dedicated three years to support the Centre and the students learning in it. Plans are already in place for the College to work with Vistry to work with students throughout their courses.
Guests enjoyed a light lunch before listening to keynote speakers and taking a tour of the Centre. Two furniture-making students, Sid Debonaire and Lottie Chavasse-Hadfield, also spoke about their experiences of learning at the new Centre and looking ahead at the next academic year.
Principal and Chief Executive Rich Harris said: “This is a £9m, purpose-built facility where we will be able to teach and provide people with the skills they need to be part of a valuable and important sector in construction and teach them the sustainable and modern methods of construction.
“It is going to give the people of Bristol and the region the facilities and skills they need to become valued members of the construction industry over the next five to 25 years.”
Work begun on the new Centre in 2020 under the head contractor, Midas Construction Ltd, and was officially handed over to the College in May. The College then commenced with the ‘fit out’, which was completed on-time and on-budget.
Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: “I’m so pleased that this fantastic new learning centre has been created in south Bristol, made possible with £6 million funding through the West of England Combined Authority which I’m proud to lead. A construction skills centre serving this part of the West of England has for too long been on a wish-list, and I’m delighted this cash injection has at last made it a reality.
“Serving communities across south Bristol and beyond it will help construction course students learn the skills they need to – literally – build a better future. And as we all work together to meet our ambitious net zero target it’s really good that eco-friendly construction practices and learning about sustainability form key parts of the courses on offer.
“Opening the Centre was an honour, enabling students to use its brilliant facilities and equipment, and ensuring they can get hands-on experience in their chosen profession.”
The state-of-the-art Centre is home to an array of construction courses and motor vehicle studies, with traditional construction pathways such as plastering, brickwork, carpentry and professional construction.
The opening of the new Centre will also see the College introduce brand-new courses and topics, such as retrofitting, to support developments in sustainable construction techniques.
It has already received the government’s Levelling Up Champion Award after being nominated by Bristol South MP Karin Smyth for the Infrastructure For Opportunity goal.
Bristol South MP Karin Smyth has been a long-term supporter and the new Centre. She said: “I was pleased to join the Advanced Construction Skills Centre launch with the Mayor of the West of England, Dan Norris. The £9 million investment in this skills centre is a wonderful opportunity for the young people in south Bristol and I am pleased higher apprenticeship courses will be offered alongside construction courses for trades in wood, brick, and plaster for both young people and those looking to retrain or build on their current qualifications.
“We need centres like this around the country to develop our vocational capacity, to provide young people with the trades and skills that will help them into well paid jobs, and to show a commitment to ensuring that learning a trade is given the same level of investment and respect as learning in an academic setting. Both are vital for the prosperity of this country and both are needed to help our towns and communities recover from a decade of austerity and the pandemic.”
The Centre has also been shortlisted for Development of the Year Award and the South West Property Awards after being nominated by Midas Construction.
Midas’ Group Business Development Director, Andy Smith, said: “The opening of the Advanced Construction Skills Centre marks a significant moment for the college, the city and its people, the education and construction sectors, and the South West.
“Midas is delighted to have successfully delivered this high-quality facility that is set to play a fundamental role in helping to prepare the region to build back better and greener; and meets the shared vision of its stakeholders. During a challenging period, this was possible only through the commitment of our dedicated people and expert supply chain.”
The £9million project, which has been part-funded by the West of England Combined Authority’s Local Enterprise Partnership, is the latest addition to the new development plan for the area – with new houses and facilities planned for the neighbouring Hengrove Park.
For more information about what is on offer at the Centre, visit its designated web page.