OLDHAM College has been given the keys to its new £9million Construction Centre by Willmott Dixon – five weeks ahead of schedule.
The state-of-the-art venue will offer elite technical education facilities to address the skills gap in the sector.
Students will be taught technical trades and higher professional skills right through to degree level – including new T Level qualifications – and access a range of exciting career routes including architecture and surveying, electrical, plumbing and plastering.
The Construction Centre has first-class provision for practical plumbing and electrical work, plus flexible build spaces, testing areas, mobile workbenches, breakout and showcase areas, and associated classrooms, offices and storage space.
The two-storey facility provides an extra 2,296 sqm of specialist teaching and learning space and will see construction student numbers at Oldham College increase by 70 per cent plus an extra 200 apprenticeship places each year.
Alun Francis, Oldham College Chief Executive and Principal, said: “It’s really exciting to get into the Construction Centre and start fitting it out ready for our first batch of learners later this year.
“This will be a fantastic environment for young people and adults to get into a higher skilled trade across the construction and built environment sectors.
“It has also enabled us to expand our curriculum into areas with labour skills shortages like internal design, dry lining and kitchen fitting.
“This development is absolutely crucial to our strategic plans and it puts our facilities on a par with the very best across Greater Manchester.
“We’re extremely grateful to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) for their assistance in funding this project and to Willmott Dixon who have done a fantastic job delivering this ahead of schedule and on budget.”
The project got planning permission in late-January 2020 with Willmott Dixon as the lead contractor and national award-winning AHR as architects. The scheme has included the demolition of the obsolete Bronte and Bevan teaching blocks.
Willmott Dixon had just started enabling works, procured through the Scape Major Works framework, when the first national Covid-19 lockdown hit in March 2020.
However, working to the Government’s emergency measures on social distancing and construction sites, the project team were able to continue working on-site.
Anthony Dillon, Managing Director for Willmott Dixon in the North, said: “As a business based in Oldham, we’re committed to transforming lives, creating opportunities and strengthening our community.
“We’re hugely proud to play our part in creating these exciting new facilities and creating a pathway for the next generation of construction professionals to gain the skills and experience, our industry and our region needs.
“It is thanks to the strength of the relationships and collaboration between our team, Oldham College and all our local design and supply chain partners that we have overcome the unprecedented challenges of the past year, completed the project, and, most importantly, kept everyone safe on site.”
The GMCA contributed a £6.95 million grant towards the project, with Oldham College providing the remaining capital funding.
Oldham College has also just incorporated the former GM UTC building into its estate. It is the new home to the Faculty of Caring Professions, English and maths, and science.
By September 2021 it will boast new high-specification simulation suites mirroring a nursery and a clinical hospital ward, making it a superb location for students to make progress in a future trade or career.
These two projects are just the latest phase in transforming a campus which has seen almost £45m of investment in facilities for learners and staff since 2012.
To see a 360° Virtual Tour of the new Construction Centre and more pictures, go online: www.oldham.ac.uk/ccentrehandover