West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, officially opened a new £4m extension to the City of Bristol College Advanced Engineering Centre (AEC) today.
The 1,200sq m AEC extension brings the college’s existing engineering, aeronautical and manufacturing courses under one roof. It provides state-of-the-art industry facilities including workshops, laboratories, computer aided simulation rigs and testing/diagnostic equipment, to allow students and apprentices to work with the latest technology and give them the skills they need for employment.
The development will also support a growth in apprenticeships offered by the college, which already has 1000 apprentices working with some 600 employers.
The extension has been funded by the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth Fund, and has been delivered by Kier.
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “We’re a very highly skilled region but we still have skills gaps in some areas, including advanced engineering and manufacturing. This fantastic new facility, designed specifically to meet the needs of our regional employers, will help us to bridge that gap, and boost business growth opportunities.
“We need a well-motivated workforce with the right skills for our businesses. Projects like the AEC extension, which align education and skills closely with business needs, open up opportunities that help ensure everyone – regardless of background or personal circumstances – can access support to develop the right skills to fulfil their potential.”
Professor Steve West, Chair of the West of England LEP, said: “Skills shortages are one of the most frequently reported barriers to business growth in the West of England. The new AEC will fill a vital skills gap within a booming industry, and is great example of how funding can open up opportunities for young people and businesses.”
Lee Probert, Principal and Chief Executive of City of Bristol College, said: “The investment from the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership has enabled us to expand our Advanced Engineering Centre and enhance the training on offer for our students and apprentices.
“In the region’s fast-growing industries such as engineering, aerospace and manufacturing, apprenticeships have proven to be important initiatives for developing young talent to address local skills shortages, especially as we head towards Brexit. The latest technology, hands on experience and expert staff, all of which are available in our Advanced Engineering Centre, are vital for developing highly employable individuals that are meeting the needs of the local industry and businesses, now and in the future.”