£3.75m construction training centre to open at Easton and Otley College

Lord Heseltine during his visit to Easton & Otley College earlier this year.

Lord Heseltine during his visit to Easton & Otley College earlier this year. - Credit: Archant

A new £3.75million training centre which aims to help tackle the worsening skills shortage in the East Anglia construction sector is to be officially opened today.

The launch of the new facility, on the Norfolk campus of Easton and Otley College, comes just eight months after Lord Heseltine visited the site to mark the start of building work and sign New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growth Deal with the Government, which has brought £221m of funding into Suffolk and Norfolk.

The LEP has invested £2.5m in the new construction training centre which will be the first Growth Deal project to be completed anywhere in the country and will enable the college to treble its number of construction students.

This will help overcome a growing shortage of skilled workers which threatens the industry’s ability to meet demand, includingkey targets for housebuilding.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP said: “This new construction training centre means the next generation of bricklayers, carpenters and electricians will be learning their skills in state of the art facilities.

“And with three times as many apprentices and students coming into the construction sector over the coming years, the college can make a very real change to the housing picture in Norfolk and Suffolk and nationally too.”

The new training centre will offer training in skills including bricklaying, joinery, site carpentry and electrical. The college’s Suffolk campus has been offering construction training for more than 10 years, with the Norfolk site having launched its first courses for the sector in 2012.

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David Henley, principal of Easton and Otley College, said: “I joined the college in April 2015 and the creation of such a fantastic resource – that will bring masses of opportunities to apprentices, students and industry – is one of the many reasons why I chose to work for this great college.

“In terms of construction, since 2012 in Norfolk, we have trebled the amount of construction students we teach in three years and we are aiming to do the same again in the next three to four years thanks to this new investment. We are confident that our new building will be a flag-ship centre for construction skills in the East.”

David Lawrence, the college’s former principal, who will name and open the building, said: “The college has played such a huge positive part in my life I’m so very honoured that the college has decided to name this superb facility after me. It is very humbling and the official opening will be a very proud day for my family and I.”

Rupert Kitchen, partner at LSI architects which designed the new building, said: “The Construction Skills Centre will play an important role in addressing the employment shortfall that currently frustrates the growth ambitions of many regional construction sector businesses.

“The large scale, simple form, new building is the college’s most recent addition to the campus, following the pattern of development set out by the wider campus master plan drawn up by LSI Architects.”