by Deputy Principal Richard Harris
2021 is a significant year for City of Bristol College, with our new £9million Advanced Construction Skills Centre (ACSC) opening in September.
Located at our South Bristol Skills Academy, it is a fantastic facility which will deliver practical training and skills, create jobs, and help drive sustainable and inclusive economic growth across the city region. The opening of the Centre comes at the right time, with the opportunity for the construction sector to be at the forefront of economic recovery and growth across Bristol and the West Country. It has been estimated that in the next two years, more than 22,000 new jobs will be required in construction across the South West region. More locally, major developments in Bristol including YTL Arena Bristol, Temple Quarter and Hengrove Park will require highly-skilled workers in a variety of different trades and professions, and this is where the ACSC can really help employers.
The College’s ACSC has been jointly funded by the West England Combined Authority (WECA) as part of the Local Industrial Strategy and in-line with the Employment and Skills Plan. It will provide modern facilities to train people in all areas of construction in order to develop the skilled workforce which employers will need in the years ahead. This will be in traditional trades such as bricklaying, carpentry and construction, and also higher-level training, such as project management and quantity surveying, which can lead to further study and higher education. Much of the training will be focusing on green, sustainable construction. There is a huge demand locally, regionally and nationally for all our training to incorporate a significant element of sustainability to reflect modern methods of construction and to deliver the right skills for low-carbon buildings and retro-fitting existing housing stock, for example.
The ACSC has more than 3,500 square metres of new training facilities, including workshops, employers’ training suites, IT rooms and classroom delivery. We have deliberately designed the Centre to replicate real working conditions and our learners will be able to develop practical skills which they wouldn’t find in a traditional classroom environment. We have invested heavily in workshops and machinery which reflect those our students would find in a real-life construction environment, and in new equipment to provide ‘future-proofed’ training which encompasses the latest developments and technology.
From the start of this project we have involved key stakeholders in the city region and a representation of small and large employers in the construction sector. We have worked with representative bodies such as the Construction Industry Training Board to ensure the Centre has precisely the right facilities and equipment to deliver the necessary skills for the workforce. Employers have been particularly helpful in this and the project was steered by an Employers’ Board including directors, training and development managers and apprenticeship managers from several regional and national employers, as well as managing directors from SMEs across Bristol. This stakeholder engagement will continue as we want to ensure we’re always responding to the needs of the sector, and if your company would like to be involved and help to shape the delivery of skills and training in this area, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One important area in which we are keen to hear from employers is around women in construction. We know women are under-represented in the workforce across the sector, and that there are some fantastic opportunities for those who embark on a career in construction. If you can help the College’s drive for a more inclusive and diverse workforce then please get in touch. Equally, if you’d just like to find out some more about the Centre and the benefits it will deliver to employers in Bristol and beyond, then feel free to contact me at email@example.com.