The construction industry is set to receive a welcome boost after Midas Construction began work on a new skills centre in the West of England.
Generations of students will benefit from City of Bristol College’s new £9million Advanced Construction Skills Centre based at its South Bristol Skills Academy. A turf cutting ceremony was held at the site on Friday 14 February to formally mark the start of construction work on the major project.
Designed to meet sector skills needs, as well as widening participation and access to state-of-the-art construction facilities, the centre will deliver higher apprenticeships alongside construction courses for trades in wood, brick and plaster for young people as well as qualifications for professionals already working in the field.
Provision at the centre will also be made for more traditional training routes to service the large number of building firms and small traders located in the south of the city.
Steve Hindley, Chairman at Midas Group, said: “We are delighted to be working alongside City of Bristol College on this prestigious project. Supporting emerging talent to build on their knowledge and expertise will have a longstanding impact for the future of our industry and we are pleased to be a part of that.”
The scheme includes a 2,800 sqm new construction centre, alongside the 750 sqm refurbishment of an existing building, a construction yard as well as parking and cycle spaces. The Advanced Construction Skills Centre is due to welcome its first students in September 2021.
The total cost of the project is £9m, with £6m coming from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) through the Local Growth Fund, administered by the West of England Combined Authority (WECA). Midas secured the work through the South West Construction Framework (SCF), a £5.25billion framework delivering public sector projects over the next four years. Since being appointed to SCF in 2015 Midas has won 30 projects with a total value of more than £151million.
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles said: “Construction is one of our region’s anchor sectors and we need to provide the new skills to help the industry grow in the future. We also need to make sure that growth is inclusive and that everyone in our community can access those opportunities. That’s why I have 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. City of Bristol College’s new Advanced Construction Skills Centre is a great example of how we are addressing that challenge. It will help prepare young people, apprentices and higher education students from the West of England and beyond for successful careers in the construction sector.”
Andy Forbes, Principal and Chief Executive at City of Bristol College, said: “The development of our new Advanced Construction Skills Centre is a start of a new exciting phase for our construction curriculum. These state-of-the-art facilities will provide an industry-standard training environment to students and apprentices of all ages, supporting the anticipated growth in the construction sector employment opportunities.
“As highlighted in our recent Ofsted inspection, our students and apprentices ‘are ambitious and well-motivated to learn. They recognise how the skills and knowledge they are gaining will help them in the future’. The new centre will support us in making our students even more job-ready and ambitious in their career related goals.”
Chair of the West of England LEP, Prof Steve West, said: “We’re really pleased to support the fantastic new Advanced Construction Skills Centre at City of Bristol College. This will help to equip our current and future construction workforce with the skills they need to drive forward the building of new homes, business premises and infrastructure as our region grows. It will also help them to secure better career prospects and make the most of the opportunities available right here in the West of England.”
Midas is one of the UK’s largest independent construction and property services providers, delivering projects for customers across a range of sectors including; education, residential and commercial developments, and has other offices throughout the South of England, Wales and the Midlands.
Bristol South MP Karin Smyth, speaking at the launch event, said: “We know that, because of transport issues and a lack of big employers locally, it’s very hard for young people in Bristol South to get a decent job, get decent training and then get the money they need to have a decent life. This Advanced Skills Construction Centre has a key role to play in giving local people training that is based right here at this fantastic skills academy.
“Today is a culmination of our collaborative effort – between the college myself, the college, the local council and WECA. I brought the Conservative Minister Robert Halford here a couple of years ago to see the college and I took him to the window upstairs and said ‘that site down there, we need that site for the construction centre’. I’m delighted that we are now seeing real progress with this and look forward to seeing the centre built and open to learners next year.”
Catherine Bullough, CITB Partnerships Manager for South and South West England, added that the organisation had supported the creation of the new Advanced Construction Skills Centre. She said: “We’re delighted to have joined local construction employers on the steering group, working together to help make sure the new skills centre will meet the future needs of the industry in the South West.” The development of City of Bristol College’s Advanced Construction Skills Centre is due to introduce 180 new apprenticeships at Level 3 and above in the first year and provide a sustainable pipeline for higher apprenticeships for the future to create additional training opportunities for local communities, supporting their wellbeing and the growth of the local economy.