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16TH JUN 2023

Gloucestershire College given green light for sustainable construction centre in Cheltenham

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The £5.2m project aims to tackle the growing demand for skilled construction workers in the county, with an emphasis on sustainable and low-carbon technologies.

We are thrilled to announce that we have been given the go ahead to train the green workforce of tomorrow through the build of a new sustainable construction centre in Cheltenham that will unite the county’s cyber and infrastructure ambitions, and support a growing cohort of local school leavers.

As Cheltenham undertakes ambitious construction projects, including the Golden Valley Development and significant infrastructure projects such as the M5 J10 and A417, there is an increasing need for skilled construction workers. Local demand for new recruits is projected to be 6,400 each year, in order to deliver the planned work by 2025. Moreover, the industry's shift towards net-zero carbon technologies within construction will compound this challenge.

"In the face of big challenges, there are often great opportunities," says Matthew Burgess, Principal at Gloucestershire College.

"As an FE College, we anticipate an increase in students by academic year 25/26. This demographic bulge provides a unique opportunity to address the local skills shortage. By creating a sustainable construction centre in Cheltenham, our ultimate goal is to position careers in construction as an exceptionally appealing option for these young people and equip them with the necessary training and skills in sustainable technologies, as well as opportunities to engage with industry.”

GC’s 7,000 square-foot sustainable construction centre, which has received £70,000 from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and £4m from the Post 16 Capacity Fund, will be equipped to train 164 learners per week in a range of skills with sustainability at their core.

Both full-time courses and apprenticeships will be taught at the centre which, once complete, will feature 13 plumbing bays, 21 electrical bays, and 21 bays for brickwork, groundworks and carpentry, as well as 4 classrooms.

The centre and its training provision will be based on existing nationally set pathways but will embrace low-carbon energy and the associated skills needed in this rapidly evolving market. Curriculum will be designed in line with the carbon toolkit announced by local councils, as well as aspirations outlined in the Golden Valley Development and Gloucestershire Sustainable Energy Strategy.

Whilst integrated with the main campus, and built to embody the College’s GC Zero commitment, the new centre will have its own unique identity aimed at inspiring young people to pursue a career in construction.

In addition to planned remodelling of existing space, Cheltenham Campus will offer training in brickwork, electrical, plumbing, carpentry, property maintenance, groundworks and construction and the built environment – including T Levels, university level qualifications and apprenticeships.

Designed by the local Roberts Limbrick Architects, the centre has benefitted from support from Cheltenham Borough Council and other local stakeholders, and will bring together industry with academia, much like the Advanced Digital Academy (ADA) has with the cyber-tech community.

"We have witnessed the success of this approach with ADA," added Matthew Burgess. “The partnership between the College and industry creates opportunities for both employers and our learners.

“We are thrilled that our bid to create a brand-new sustainable construction centre has been approved by the council and grateful to all the stakeholders involved with the bid. The centre will be at the very heart of Cheltenham’s community inspiring young people into the construction industry, equipping them with the skills of tomorrow and increasing social mobility.”

Councillor Max Wilkinson, Cabinet Member Economic Development, Culture, Tourism and Wellbeing said: “We have a duty to create opportunities for our young people so they can learn the green skills to meet the needs of the development industry now and in the future.

“Cheltenham is committed to high environmental standards in construction, particularly at the Borough Council-led Golden Valley Development, and we have demonstrated that by adopting new planning guidance to prompt developers to achieve the highest possible standards. This nationally significant project and other schemes including Elms Park to the northwest of the town will bring much-needed new jobs and homes over the next 10-15 years. 

“The sustainable construction centre at Gloucestershire College will help young people to play a positive role as our town grows and that’s why the Borough Council supported the scheme through our UKSPF bid.”

The 12-month build is set to begin later this summer, and Gloucestershire’s first green construction centre will welcome its first cohort of learners in September 2024.

Find out more about the College’s current construction offer here.

About the UK Shared Prosperity Fund: The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills.

For more information, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-shared-prosperity-fund-prospectus