Confirmation of a new, innovative green skills centre – one of several schemes to have benefited from funding secured by the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) – has been announced.
Abingdon and Witney College’s Green Construction Skills Centre – a new facility that will aim to address a shortage of skills in Oxfordshire supporting a greener and cleaner future – is one of several projects in the county supported by the Government’s Getting Building Fund, a fund that aims to help kick-start the UK economy following the emergence of Coronavirus.
The new centre – which is planned to be situated at the college’s Abingdon campus – is set to offer a variety of training programmes for young people in Oxfordshire, including school engagement activities, full-time courses for 16 to 18-year-olds (including T Levels), higher-level programmes and apprenticeships.
The new facility will also benefit those already operating in the construction sector as well as people looking to enter it too, with the college set to create a number of green-focused adult training programmes and a variety of short-term upskilling courses.
Courses will be designed with the input from key employers and sector bodies – such as the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) – as well as those with specialisms and an interest in green issues, with training focused on areas such as low or zero carbon technologies for both new build and retrofit construction projects.
The centre will so align with the Oxfordshire Zero Carbon RetroFit (OZCRF) programme, currently being developed.
OxLEP secured £2.5million of funding for the Green Construction Skills Centre via the Getting Building Fund, with the overall cost of the project totalling £3million.
Working alongside private and public sector partners from across the county – in the summer of 2020 – OxLEP secured a total of £8.4million-worth of investment for Oxfordshire, giving businesses and communities an all-important boost following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Since its inception in 2011, OxLEP – with its partners – has secured over £660m-worth of government funding for Oxfordshire, which has seen more than 48,000 new jobs created in the county to-date.
In total, OxLEP currently oversees a £2.2bn growth programme for the county.
Nigel Tipple – Chief Executive of OxLEP – said: “The confirmation of this new facility, which will make a significant impact on supporting a drive towards a zero carbon future, is excellent news.
“The provision set out by Abingdon and Witney College will also mean our construction workforce will be in a superior position to meet the demands of a greener future and even support the county to capitalise on the opportunities the green economy will present.
“As the Local Enterprise Partnership for Oxfordshire, we will continue to play a vitally important role for the county moving forward, securing investment that enables new opportunities that will benefit the county for many years to come.”
Jacqui Canton – Principle of Abingdon and Witney College – said: “We are absolutely delighted to have secured funding with the support of OxLEP to build the new Green Construction Skills Centre on our Abingdon campus.
“This is the latest college investment to support the development of construction skills for Oxfordshire, and complements the Construction centre we already operate in Witney and the brand new Construction Skills Centre that we have just opened in Bicester.
“We know how significant construction skills are for the health and growth of the Oxfordshire economy, and we now have the opportunity to ensure that we can lead the way in developing the skills needed to deliver sustainable, greener construction.”
Overall, Oxfordshire’s Getting Building Fund investment will support a number of emerging clean energy projects in the county, creating hundreds of new jobs in the process.
Getting Building Fund projects also recognise the possible ‘changing face’ of work patterns in Oxfordshire, supporting businesses to be more agile in-light of COVID-19.
Collectively, Oxfordshire-focused schemes supported by the Getting Building Fund are set to lead to the creation of 472 new jobs – as well as an additional 43 construction-focused roles – with the fund also ready to safeguard a further 324 jobs.