A new state-of-the-art learning facility has been hailed as ‘the perfect place’ to tackle a severe skills shortage and build a better future for the construction industry in Northamptonshire.
Northampton College’s impressive £4.75million Advanced Construction Engineering (ACE) Centre, built at Booth Lane campus, was unveiled on Friday, 20 September 2019 at an official opening. It will help train the next generation of highly skilled construction professionals including builders, plumbers and decorators and teach pioneering new techniques aimed at equipping the workforce of the future with the very latest skills.
Principal Pat Brennan-Barrett was joined by guest of honour, Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom MP, fellow Northamptonshire MPs Michael Ellis, Andrew Lewer and Chris Heaton-Harris and representatives from contractors Kier and the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, which helped fund the project through its Skills Capital Fund.
She said: “The ACE Centre is a commitment to providing the very best educational facilities for our young people, an investment in the next generation of workers and the business leaders of tomorrow.
“It is the perfect place to ensure a pipeline of highly skilled, high quality students, with the technical abilities required by the to fill the skills gap that currently exists; providing a sustainable, long term and modern workforce to the construction industry and related services.”
Alongside courses which focus on craft skills there will also be courses at Level 3 for those looking for supervisory, technician or management careers in the sector, such as in Civil Engineering, Building Services Engineering, or Project Management.
Andrea Leadsom, Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire, said: “We’re committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the UK and building a Britain fit for the future.
“The new Advanced Construction Engineering centre with its state-of-the-art new facilities is sure to have a lasting impact on the construction and engineering sectors of Northampton and beyond.
“The £2.25 million Local Growth Fund contribution will enable those enrolled at Northampton College to learn the pioneering new techniques and skills both they and employers need to boost our economy now and in the future.”
The centre features a revolutionary ‘Digital Lab’ featuring a Virtual Reality classroom, 3D printing facilities and industry-standard workshop equipment and will provide a pipeline of ‘work-ready’ staff for local employers, with dozens of major companies, including the likes of Kier, Bowmer & Kirkland, Metcalfe’s and the Murphy Group, already in place as recognised industry-based partners.
The building was part-funded through external funding from SEMLEP’s Skills Capital Fund.
Judith Barker, director of programmes and governance at SEMLEP, said: “Addressing both the skills gap and the ageing workforce is seen as a top priority within leading construction companies and it’s extremely heartening to see Northampton College’s ACE Centre become a reality.
“This project will have a real impact on the economic wellbeing for Northampton and beyond, creating not just jobs but a highly-skilled workforce equipped with skills to last a lifetime.”
A spokesman for Kier said: “This project has allowed us to help nurture and develop talent in the younger generation where we currently see a skills gap shortage. It will provide essential skills and training to pave the way for a better future for the local construction industry, local people and the local area.”
Prospective students can apply online now for courses at the ACE Centre, including plumbing and heating, painting, decorating and interior design, and carpentry, joinery and theatre/film set production.
Aspiring chefs at Northampton College have been challenged to come up with a dish that awakens the senses as part of a charity dinner raising awareness of visual impairments.
The event, called ‘Dining in the Dark’, is being held at the college’s own restaurant ‘The Lane’ and has been organised by NAB, the sight support charity for Northamptonshire.
Guests will enjoy a lavish dinner created by chefs from The Perfect Country Pub Company and assisted by catering students at Booth Lane. The students have been challenged to come up with ideas for a special amuse bouche which will be served on the night. The dish must focus on other senses, such as sound, touch and smell – making it suitable for anyone with a visual impairment.
Phil Martin, head of hospitality and catering at Northampton College, said: “Dining in the Dark is a brilliant concept and gives our students to think more about the challenges of preparing food for those with limited or no vision. It’s an opportunity for them to get creative and I’m looking forward to tasting what they come up with.”
The students’ creations will be judged later this month with the winning dish served at the dinner on Wednesday, October 2.
Rhian Williams, fundraising manager at NAB, said: “Dining in the Dark promises to be a real insight into how so many with limited vision live their daily lives. It will be a multi-sensory experience to remember and we can’t wait to see what Northampton College students have in store.”
Guests will wear sight loss ‘simulation specs’ to experience what it’s like being blind or partially sighted while Northampton Saints legend Christian Day will give an after-dinner talk followed by a charity auction to raise money for sight loss.
The event is being held in partnership with Tompkins Knight & Son Optometrists, Warners Distillery and Amps Fine Wines.
NAB is sponsoring the new ‘Dining for All’ category at the 2019 Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards, championing venues which go above and beyond to promote inclusivity and accessibility.
The number of Northampton College students achieving high grades at GCSE is on the up – with a focus on support for students and high expectations now reaping rewards.
More than one in three students (34 per cent) taking their English GCSE achieved a high grade (grade 4-9) while 27 per cent did so in maths (up from 24 per cent last year) - well above national averages for FE colleges.
The results back up the college’s status as the leading provider of further education in the South East Midlands region and build on last year’s Ofsted inspection, which rated the college as ‘good’ with ‘outstanding features’.
Having turned 17 on Tuesday, Harry Heaphy celebrated his birthday in style by earning a grade 7 in English - the equivalent to an A grade. The result has given him the chance to study A Levels and he hopes to progress onto university and a potential career in journalism.
He said: "I'm absolutely over the moon. I needed a grade 5 and that was what I was hoping to get so to actually get a grade 7 is amazing. I'm buzzing."
Tatiana Lomakina, originally from Russia, wasn’t confident about using the qualifications achieved in her homeland when applying for jobs in Northampton. Having studied at Booth Lane she now has a grade 8 in maths and will study accountancy from September.
She said: “I’m very grateful to everyone at Northampton College, I had a brilliant tutor and it’s a brilliant place to learn. I’d recommend it to anyone.”
Overall, GCSE results at the College remained strong, with an overall pass rate of 97 per cent.
Principal of Northampton College, Pat Brennan-Barrett, said: “We are thrilled to see so many people now able to progress and move on in their lives having achieved the grades they need at GCSE.
“The increase in the number of students achieving high grades is particularly pleasing. We set high expectations of our students, making sure that they always attended their classes regularly and punctually and instilling a culture of hard work and determination. I am thrilled to see our students reap the rewards of months of dedication.
“I am proud of our staff who have worked so hard to support their students throughout the year. They have made a real difference.”
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