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Work to start on £2.3 million training centre in West Cumbria

Building work on a £2.3 million training centre in West Cumbria is set to begin next week.

The civil engineering training centre at Lakes College, Lillyhall, will open its doors to students in September.

It will be built opposite the college’s main entrance and be built by Cumbrian contractor Story Contracting.

The Department for Education awarded the project £1.4million, which already had £900,000 from Cumbria LEP’s Growth Deal fund, and £550,000 of college funds earmarked.

College principal Chris Nattress said: “I’m thrilled that we are commencing the construction of our civil engineering training Centre, and have appointed a local contractor.

“Once open for training, this centre will provide a fantastic facility here in West Cumbria to support individuals, communities and employers throughout the region train for skilled employment, apprenticeships and careers in construction and civil engineering.

“We know how important a pipeline of talent is for the civil engineering sector, in support of a multitude of build projects and infrastructure across the North.

“We can’t wait to get started now and develop a very impressive asset for Cumbria and beyond.”

Planning for the centre has been going on behind the scenes for six years.

Mike Smith MBE, board member and chair of the people, employment and skills strategy group at Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership said: “Cumbria LEP is proud to support the investment in a high quality civil construction skills facility at Lakes College.

“This facility will enhance the skills offer across Cumbria, providing our construction sector with a range of support to build their workforce of the future and develop the talent needed to address the challenges of future.

“Cumbria LEP is committed to supporting our high quality, responsive skills system in meeting the skills needs of our unique economy.”

Minister for regional growth and local government, Luke Hall said: “By supporting the centre at Lakes College with a £900,000 Local Growth Fund investment, we’re helping the community develop skills for the future.

“The centre will nurture the next generation of engineering talent in the North West, allowing them to move on to well paid, high quality jobs.

“We’re investing in further education across the country so that more young people can benefit from fantastic opportunities like this.”

The centre will have an indoor practical area with teaching spaces and outdoor areas for civils training and for heavy machinery and plant operations.

It will provide training for a variety of trades, including scaffolders, steel fixers and plant operatives.

Employers and the civil engineering industry has been fully involved in the design and range of training offered from the outset and employers have welcomed the news.

Story Contracting has also committed to hosting work experience for 10 students from Lakes College.

Emma Porter, construction managing director at Story Contracting, said: “We’re delighted to work in partnership with Lakes College to deliver the new facility, supporting young people in West Cumbria to gain the skills and experience needed to further their careers.

“The construction sector is an important part of our local economy; to keep the industry thriving and create further employment opportunities we need the skills and resources to bring up the next generation of skilled construction workers.”

From September, Lakes College will offer T Levels in four areas – digital; construction; education and childcare; and health and science.

T Levels are part of the range of technical education programmes that support growth sector of the economy. The new construction T Levels will be incorporated in the new Civil Engineering Training Centre.

Lakes College chair of governors, Mike Priestley added: “I am delighted that this project is coming to fruition and want to thank employers, funders and staff for another first-class collaboration, which will bring a new quality vocational and technical training facility to the area.

“We look forward to welcoming the first new recruits under the T Level programme this autumn.”