Secretary of State visits site of new multi-million pound investment in construction sector
A visit by a senior Government minister to the site of what will become a new powerhouse of training for the construction sector was more than a mere photo opportunity.
It was KW Bell Group’s positive plans to deliver a new Construction Skills Accelerator Centre (CSAC) in Cinderford to serve the county and beyond which drew Robert Jenrick MP to the Forest of Dean site.
At a time when it seems almost every sector is in need of assistance any good news is worth underlining and that is what the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government,was in the county to do.
It was to remind everyone that £2 million of Government funding – won by GFirst LEP, the county’s local enterprise partnership - would help deliver a centre of excellence to inspire, train and connect people entering and advancing within the construction industry.
Pictured: Founder of K W Bell, Keith Bell, Mark Harper MP for the Forest of Dean, Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government; Sarah Danson, director of strategic growth, GFirst LEP, Peter Bell, MD of K W Bell; Nicola Bird, director of K W Bell and MD of the CSAC and Yvonne Bell, non-executive director, CSAC
The Minister met with Peter Bell, managing director of K W Bell Group, which is co-funding the project, and the managing director of the CSAC and a director of K W Bell Group, Nicola Bird.
“At the moment, everyone’s attention is focused on the practicalities of getting a building out of the ground - we’re ‘shovel-ready’ as soon as the planning process is complete,” said Ms Bird.
“We have a unique opportunity to develop real and virtual learning environments that are designed by the industry, for the industry, inspiring a new generation while supporting those already in the construction industry to upskill.”
Pictured: An artist's impression of the new constructin centre
The visit was also attended by Mark Harper, MPfor the Forest of Dean, and Sarah Danson, director of strategic growth for GFirst.
Mr Harper said: “The CSAC will provide an industry-leading training facility based in the heart of the Forest of Dean, having been thoughtfully designed to link the construction industry with education by providing a learning environment that is digitally advanced, safe, interactive and relevant.”
Led by K W Bell Group, with the support of industry employers including global giant JCB, in collaboration with Gloucestershire College and the University of Gloucestershire, the CSAC will be focused on developing job-ready men and women, equipped with knowledge and practical experience of the latest technological advances in sustainability and digital construction.
CSAC will cater for “multiple age ranges” and the 980m2 centre will include a schools’ programme to offer an introduction to the modern career opportunities available throughout the construction industry, including education pathways from 16-years up.
Students will experience everything from mock ‘live’ construction sites and high-tech digital machinery to drones for use by trainee surveyors and simulators for safely training operatives in the use of heavy plant
It will cater for apprentices from NVQ Level 1 through to undergraduate degree and be used by tradespeople updating their industry-accredited qualifications, and employers upskilling their workforces.
Aside from the government funding of £1.96 million for capital build costs - part of a successful £11.3m bid by Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, GFirst LEP, for projects in the county - the remaining project costs, anticipated at around £700,000, are being funded by privately-owned K W Bell Group.
The company has purchased the land and submitted a planning application to the Forest of Dean District Council. Once planning approval has been granted, work will begin on site immediately, with the aim of being open for use at the end of 2021.
K W Bell Group will project manage the build, support the construction work, and undertake the day-to-day running of the CSAC once complete.
The project is expected to deliver:
Five new jobs (FTE) staffing the centre in year one
200 CITB and industry-recognised qualifications in year one, rising to 500 per annum (pa) by year six
26 apprenticeships completed in year two, rising to 40 completions year on year from year three onwards
100 pupils per year attending the ‘Introduction to Construction’ Key Stage 4 School programme with speakers and career talks, rising to 500pa by year six