Skills Minister “constructs” a new future for Dudley.

Skills Minister, Nick Boles today officially launched Dudley College’s new Centre for Advanced Building Technologies by performing the ground breaking ceremony. The centre known as Advance II, is a new addition to Dudley Learning Quarter, building on the success of Advance I which opened in 2014, dedicated to providing education and skills training in Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing.

The ceremony marked the beginning of building works for the £12million centre, which will house the most advanced teaching and learning facilities in the region, for training apprentices, technicians and professionals in the construction sector. As a mark of the centre’s commitment to being at the cutting edge of new technology the ceremony was not performed in the traditional way with a spade in turf but by the use of a simulated Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Computer Aided Design (CAD) programme.

Already well-established as a centre specialising in the delivery of construction courses for apprentices the expansion will allow an even wider offering of learning opportunities for employers in the region, to upskill their existing workforce or increase the number and type of apprentice’s they take on.

Speaking at the opening, Skills Minister, Nick Boles said: "I am passionate about getting Britain building - that's why we are creating three million more apprenticeships by 2020.

"These apprenticeships at Dudley College will offer the hands on experience that young people need to succeed."

With the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) calling for a significant rise in the number of construction Apprenticeships in order to support the UK’s wider house-building aspirations, Dudley College is providing a viable solution to this skills shortage and helping to future proof the industry. By specialising in the delivery of higher level skills and new building techniques the centre is aiming to equip regional construction firms with a work force who will be able to give them a competitive advantage.

Principal of Dudley College, Lowell Williams said: “As one of the region’s best education and training providers we have long recognised that we need to work very closely with local and regional employers, so we can meet their training needs. Alongside our Apprenticeship programmes we offer a full range of training bespoke to the construction sector. We are always interested in employers telling us what future skills they believe they will need, so we can be ahead of the curve in training today’s work force for tomorrow’s jobs.”

The 3,500 M2 Advance II Centre will have purpose built facilities and equipment used by employers at the cutting edge of advanced construction and environmental technologies. In addition to technical areas and a low carbon green technologies centre the new build will include a four-storey “internal building site” called the Hangar, where modern building assembly techniques can be taught and a digital centre where learners can acquire the latest skills in Building Information Modelling (BIM).

In order to meet a growing demand from businesses who want to update their skills or acquire knowledge to enter the renewables industry, a part of the Centre will be dedicated to providing training in carbon friendly technology, including solar thermal hot water and photovoltaic systems.

Advance II will open in spring 2017 and the first groups of learners will begin their studies in the new build during the summer term.