Work begins for new £4.3m Construction Centre

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Work is underway on Bedford College’s town centre  £4.3 Million Modern Methods of Construction Centre for “off site” construction training, which is the future of the industry.

Pre-manufacturing homes, or at least part of them, and then shipping them to a building site, has been identified as the most efficient and cost-effective way of meeting the huge demand for housing.

To keep up with the skills demand from the construction industry, Bedford College has been awarded the money to upgrade its existing facilities in Cauldwell Street.

The riverside campus already houses the Brundtland Building, which leads on modern “eco” infrastructure training, and the Advanced Engineering Centre, which houses a Virtual Reality construction ‘cave’, funded by the Connolly Foundation. Digital engineering technologies and the use of computerised-aided design (CAD) equipment is already part of the wider college curriculum offer. There is a huge synergy now between engineering design and the construction industry, which opens up a whole new world of employment.

This new funding will see the single storey building which sits alongside the Brundtland Building on Cauldwell Street being upgraded to include a facility to construct dwellings and component parts like kitchen and bathroom “pods” as well as roofing using a Gantry Crane being delivered later in the Spring.

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We will be working closely with leading employers in the construction industry regionally to get input about the skills they need to fast-forward these modern methods,” said The Bedford College Group’s Director of Construction Dave Wilkins,

There are huge opportunities here for training young people for great jobs in the future - be it 16-year-olds embarking on apprenticeships, those undertaking the new T-Levels, others progressing on to degree-level Higher Education courses, and those in the industry who want to modernise their skills.“There will always be a demand for more traditional construction skills and we will continue to offer those courses across all levels.

Ian Pryce CBE, CEO of The Bedford College Group, said of the Modern Methods of Construction Centre: “The funding to refurbish our Construction centre at the Bedford College Cauldwell Street campus will support our provision of high-quality learning environments for students in the region.

This refurbishment has been supported by the Getting Building Fund which is especially welcome in these times which are seeing a renewed focus on the construction industry. The refurbished centre will support construction training, making it possible for young people to move into skilled and professional careers via apprenticeships or gain promotion through further qualifications.

The project has received £2.9 Million in funding as part of a Getting Building Fund for infrastructure projects designed to stimulate jobs and support economic recovery across the county.

The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), which covers Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire, has been allocated £27.3million of the pot - more than £15.1 million of which has been allocated to fund six projects in Bedfordshire.

Hilary Chipping, SEMLEP Chief Executive, said: “We are delighted to have secured more than £27m from government to support the economic recovery from COVID-19 in this area.  These projects will support key priorities including skills for young people, the green recovery and innovation, which all generate jobs.

In July 2019 we published our Local Industrial Strategy, laying out the priorities and interventions we needed to invest in to realise innovation, further improve connectivity and achieve sustainable growth. These Getting Building Fund projects meet these priorities and the needs of the local economy as we strive to recover economically from this pandemic.

The project is due to be completed by Autumn 2021.

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