sustainable construction skills centre

University College Birmingham is creating a sustainable construction skills centre, as part of the regeneration of the iconic James Cond print works in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter

The new Engineering and Sustainable Construction Centre is set to open next year and will offer courses and facilities specifically designed to train and upskill learners with skills that support employers and their supply chains.

The refurbishment of the historic art deco building, in the Jewellery Quarter’s Conservation Area, will honour the area’s heritage while providing the city with future skills, employment and training opportunities.

The regeneration follows the university’s refurbishment of Camden House, due for completion in Summer 2022, which will create a bespoke STEM education and training facility.

Both projects mark an investment of over £10m into Birmingham’s economy, driving the regeneration of the city and creating leading facilities that will support industry needs and create jobs.

The refurbishment of the James Cond building will unlock new opportunities and potential for the Jewellery Quarter and wider region by improving access to education and working with partners, locally and nationally, to address key regional challenges.

Central to this commitment is supporting the next generation of learners and helping the long-term unemployed to develop the skills and expertise to move into meaningful employment.

The new centre will specialise in courses that support the region’s growth areas, including sustainable construction methods, manufacturing technologies, renewable energy, robotics, and cyber and digital skills.

University College Birmingham has also partnered with the University of Warwick, to provide design opportunities for students across the West Midlands to enter the University on technical courses, and progress through to degree and master’s level courses at the University of Warwick.

This partnership will also help widen access to education and training opportunities, creating clear pathways to employment for learners at all stages of their education.

‘Train people in the skills that employers need’

Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, said: “This is a fantastic investment by University College Birmingham that I cannot wait to see come to life.

“Not only will it help regenerate and breathe new life into the former iconic James Cond print works, but it will also critically help train people in the skills that employers need, helping residents find good quality, long-term work as part of my 100,000 jobs plan.”

‘Catalyst for innovation and growth’

Michael Harkin, vice-chancellor and principal at University College Birmingham, commented: “The recent COP26 climate change conference included a high emphasis on low carbon sustainable buildings with highly ecological specifications, and there is great need of new talent in this field, with hundreds of thousands of new workers expected to be required in the next few years.

“Our exciting new courses are centred around sustainable construction and design, plus developing advanced skills in engineering and construction, and are very different to those offered by other local providers.

“It is an offering that we will continue to develop from Level 2 and T-levels through to degree courses and apprenticeships, working closely with local employers to fill skills gaps and offer training in priority areas for the West Midlands.

“First and foremost, it is firmly about supporting young people and the long-term unemployed to gain industry-relevant skills and support them into work, further study and to gain critical skills to access high-value jobs that meet local and regional needs.”

‘Addressing the skills shortage’

Colin Hamilton, strategic account director at Tilbury Douglas Construction, said: “Tilbury Douglas is delighted to be working in partnership with University College Birmingham on the development of the new sustainable construction courses.

“As an employer, it is vital that our employees can access robust, fit-for-purpose qualifications that will address the skills shortage and provide our future and existing workforce with the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to demonstrate competency in their roles.

“We are passionate about recruiting and developing our own talent for the future, while ensuring we remain committed to sustainably delivering vital infrastructure to communities across the UK. This collaboration will help us to achieve this.”

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