Colchester Institute has announced that work has commenced on creating a new Energy Skills Centre for Harwich. Set to be open for January 2013, the Centre will provide the opportunity for hundreds to develop relevant skills necessary to take advantage of the current and future opportunities in the low carbon economy and the offshore wind sector in particular.
Planning permission was obtained earlier this year to redevelop part of Hamilton House, within the port estate. A refurbishment programme, largely funded by the College, has been designed with project managers Davis Langdon that will see an engineering workshop, classrooms and IT provision made available to future students of the College. State of the art equipment will be introduced to allow for skills to be developed aligned to the needs of local employers. Cadman Construction of Colchester has been selected to undertake the significant refurbishment works, which started this week.
Training centre will provide long term benefits to the area
The Centre for Engineering in the College will initially provide a range of further education, apprenticeship and employability programmes to over 150 learners in the seven months to July 2013. Gary Horne, Director of Finance and Operations, who is leading on the project, said: “We are delighted that the way is now clear for Colchester Institute to re-affirm its commitment to the area by developing a fifth training location in the Tendring District.
“Delivery of the Energy Skills Centre is pivotal to our strategic planning for Tendring. We are actively involved in building numerous partnerships that will have real long term benefits for the area, enabling local residents to obtain the necessary skills to take advantage of the job opportunities that are emerging on our doorstep.
“The support of the Local, District and County Council has proved invaluable. The Centre will be a key delivery location for training provided for the Employer Ownership of Skills pilot – an innovative scheme Colchester Institute has been working on for some time with lead employer AJ Woods Engineering Limited.”
Vocational and community links
The ‘Energising Harwich – Creating a Passport to Work’ project has received indicative approval to proceed from the UK Commission of Education and Skills. In addition, the centre will allow for stronger vocational links with Harwich and Dovercourt High School and other training providers, including the Harwich Mayflower Project, to ensure the town can offer a broad range of engineering-based training options for school children, school leavers and anyone who has a desire to work within the energy sector.
The College will also be working closely with Job Centre Plus providing pre-employment programmes for the unemployed through an energy sector based work academy based at the Centre. The programmes will be linked to the career aspirations of individuals as well as meeting the labour market demands of existing Tendring employers and any new businesses to the area.
Councillor Stephen Castle, Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning said: “It is excellent news that the Energy Skills Centre is set to be developed in Harwich and we fully support it. Essex County Council recognises the far reaching opportunities offered by the energy sector now and in the coming years. To this end, we have already signed an Energy Skills Memorandum of Understanding with Suffolk and Norfolk County Councils to identify future opportunities for local business and residents.”
With the East Anglian Energy Coast already being host to the world’s largest offshore wind market it is clear that there will be a need to upskill the local workforce to meet the needs of the offshore wind industry, and having a local training facility can only assist attracting major investment in this regard.
Press release, November 7, 2012; Image: Colchester Institute