West Nottinghamshire College has told of its ambitious plans to create a £5.8 million engineering training centre to prepare students for employment and provide access to higher-level apprenticeships.
The college is set to transform an empty industrial unit on Oddicroft Lane, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, into a flagship engineering and automotive hub.
Known as the Engineering and Innovation Centre, it will offer students cutting-edge vocational training facilities and equipment, along with dedicated workshops for mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering, motor-vehicle maintenance and fabrication and welding, spread over 2,750 sq. m. of floor space.
Teaching and learning spaces including classrooms, IT suites and a central resource area will be housed on a giant 1,552 sq. m. mezzanine overlooking the vocational training areas.
The new centre will aid curriculum development and the introduction of higher-level apprenticeships in both technical and management disciplines.
It will also allow for more training in emerging technologies including carbon, Nano and hybrid technologies, and the launch of more university-level courses.
The college is investing £3.9 million in the scheme, with the remaining £1.9 million coming from a Skills Funding Agency grant.
Bosses say the multi-million pound investment will boost students’ employment prospects – citing the High Speed 2 (HS2) rail network and phase two extension of Nottingham’s tram system as major infrastructure projects requiring skilled engineers.
Works to re-model the building and install equipment is expected to start in October, with the centre due to open its doors in September 2014.
Principal and chief executive Asha Khemka OBE said: “Delivering our engineering and transport training from a world-class centre will improve the learning experience, aid curriculum development and allow scope for a greater number of higher-level apprenticeships.
“Engineering is regarded by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership as a key employment sector and, as one of its main strategic partners, we believe this major investment will stimulate jobs, secure employment opportunities for learners and assist those in work with career progression.
“The Engineering and Innovation Centre will deliver an unrivalled range of engineering and automotive qualifications and technical skills, including advanced manufacturing and transport technology, so these are exciting times for students, employers and our local communities.”
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: “I’m delighted to announce £1.9 million in Government funding for West Nottinghamshire College, combined with £3.9 million of private money, to help transform their estate and improve teaching and learning locally.
“The Government is helping to create specialist facilities that will ensure thousands of students get the best possible learning experience and inspire them to reach their potential, while addressing local skills shortages.
“We are making the skills system more rigorous and responsive to the needs of employers, and this funding will help do that.”
The Engineering and Innovation Centre is part of a £40 million investment by the college in its estate across Mansfield and Ashfield, aimed at equipping students with the best vocational training facilities in the East Midlands, while reducing its number of sites from 11 to five.
The £1.9 million grant from the Skills Funding Agency – part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – was allocated from Round 2 of the College Capital Investment Fund (CCIF).