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College marks opening of £1.4m construction facility

College marks opening of £1.4m construction facility

Selby College has marked the end of a successful £1.4m project to extend and refurbish its construction facility.

The 'Aspiration Building' was formally opened last week in front of representatives from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership and Hull-based builder Houlton. Also attending were senior college staff and governors, plus local school heads, employers and civic leaders from across the region.

The official opening was declared by Chair of Corporation, Vernon Wells MBE, alongside Principal and Chief Executive Allan Stewart OBE, Kate Thompson, Head of Implementation (Delivery Directorate) at the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Houlton Building and Maintenance Director Andrew Kingston.

The project received 50% funding through the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Growth Deal – a £1 billion-plus package of government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

The college was successful in gaining a bid for funds from the LEP as a means of fulfilling the skills gap in the industry.

The new specialist Construction trades training facility and the extra space it provides will also enable the college to grow its already successful Powerskills Engineering programmes, helping the local area to continue providing support to a rapidly growing industry, including for the first time HNC/HND programmes.  By 2021, the aim is to train 1200 Construction Apprentices at the new facility, recruited from Selby and the surrounding district and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The demand for trained Construction workers is set to increase dramatically over the next few years as 27% of the existing workforce retires.  One particular target group the college will be encouraging is more female students to choose construction as a career.  Recent data published by the National Office for Statistics shows that the numbers of women working as Roofers, Bricklayers and Glaziers is so low that it is unmeasurable. Selby College is taking steps to correct this with 7% of learners already recruited to construction courses being female.

Powerskills will now be able to provide an even more extensive range of Construction training programmes to equip young people and adults with the skills required now and into the future whilst also providing them with the opportunity to get on a career path or Apprenticeship with great earning potential and prospects.

The new extension covers 500sqm and also included the refurbishment of one of the existing workshops to accommodate Joinery. Within the new build area, which is set to achieve a BREEAM rating (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) of ‘’very good’’ is a general classroom, an IT classroom, a plumbing and electrical workshop, a joinery machine shop and a mezzanine floor including up-to-date green technologies such as solar panel installation and grey water harvesting.

Roger Marsh OBE, Chair of the LEP and a Combined Authority Board Member, said: “Creating more and better Apprenticeships is central to our plan to build long-term and sustainable economic growth for the Leeds City Region. By investing in the Aspiration Building at Selby College – already the area’s largest provider of Apprenticeships – we are aspiring ourselves to deliver a skilled and flexible local workforce from within the city region itself.”

Cllr Mark Crane, Leader of Selby District Council, added: “Selby College is recognised across the country as a high-performing centre of learning and skills and it is fantastic that even more young people and adults will benefit from the exceptional facilities on offer thanks to the extension opened today. The college is putting the region on the map within the training and education arena and I look forward to seeing more apprentices pass through its doors and into successful careers in the years to come. A highly skilled workforce is one of our strengths here in the Selby district and one of the key reasons why this is a great place to do business.”

In what is his 10th Building Project in 25 years as Principal of Selby College, Allan Stewart said: “Since the main campus was officially opened in 2011 we have continued to add to our estate programme. The college has always successfully responded to new needs for training and education. We have seen a huge growth in demand for Media Production, Engineering, Sports, Computing and Business Services. Construction is one of the fastest growing areas, with an ageing workforce, a growing housing shortage and a need for people with skills who are able to travel within the Yorkshire and Humber region. It is therefore vital we offer young people the opportunities to learn a wide range of different skills.”

Vernon Wells added: “The government has asked for 3 million new apprentices over the next few years, and this magnificent new facility allows Selby College to help meet that demand.”

The Leeds City Region Growth Deal was a £1 billion-plus deal between the LEP and Government to help transform the Leeds City Region economy. The Growth Deal is being delivered jointly by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority to boost jobs and growth across the whole of Leeds City Region. 

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First published at 11:00 on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017.