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Government cash boost towards cutting-edge training centre for green skills

A £5.4m training centre to boost green skills and create thousands of jobs in the low-carbon construction sector is set to be developed through a partnership between West Nottinghamshire College, Nottingham Trent University and Ashfield District Council.

WNC Construction Centre
West Nottinghamshire College’s Construction Centre, off Lowmoor Road, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, will be extended to provide additional training space and high-tech equipment to boost green skills.

The pioneering project will see the College, University and Council join forces with leading construction companies to develop a flagship training centre and demonstrator site for low-carbon building methods and retrofit of existing homes to help achieve net-zero.

It comes after they secured a £1.5m government grant to kick-start the ambitious scheme.

The funding boost, from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), is part of government investment to support economic development in the D2N2 (Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire) region and was awarded through its devolution deal.

The facility will be based at the College’s existing Construction Centre, off Lowmoor Road, Kirkby-in-Ashfield, which will be extended to provide 250 sq. m of additional training space and high-tech equipment, and through the creation of a new Civil Engineering Centre in empty premises on 3,500 sq. m of adjacent land.

These two sites are also set to receive more than £6m from the Ashfield Towns fund – bringing a combined investment of more of £7.5m in construction training facilities for the D2N2 region.

Meanwhile, adjoining land will be used for training in water management and carbon sequestration – the capture, removal and storage of carbon dioxide from the earth's atmosphere – through the development of wetland and woodland. This will provide demonstration projects and ongoing support for landowners, helping them respond to changing policy from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to encourage increased environmental management of land.

The project, which has been developed in collaboration with the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, is aimed at driving the early adoption of low-carbon technologies to make construction firms and their supply chains more competitive and productive, which will help grow the economy.

It is anticipated to support almost 100 businesses and create 3,200 jobs at qualification levels 2 and 3 over the next decade, including five jobs at the centre itself.

In addition to increasing the number of skilled workers able to work on modern methods of construction and low-carbon technology, the scheme will support D2N2’s contribution to the government’s target of creating 300,000 new and affordable homes every year by 2025.

According to labour market analysis, construction represents the D2N2 area's sixth-largest sector, employing more than 23,000 people – and local leaders say this latest scheme provides a significant opportunity to grow well-paid, skilled jobs in delivering new-build homes and retrofits to support the move to low-carbon.

The investment from DLUHC will fund research equipment and demonstration facilities in water harvesting, water management and drainage, carbon sequestration, solar electricity generation and heating, heat pumps, electric transport, and construction plant and machinery.

The project will enable the college to enhance its construction curriculum to further meet local skills needs – complementing its existing provision in areas including rail, heating, mechanical and electrical, plastering, brickwork, and carpentry and joinery.

It will also enable NTU to broaden its Higher Education offer in construction, including new higher technical qualifications, and undertake research into the effectiveness of retrofit and new construction methods to inform future development.

All elements of the scheme will provide training, work experience, research and collaboration opportunities for students from the college and university.

Work on the facility is expected to get under way in summer 2023, subject to planning consent.

The DLUHC grant comes on top of funding from the Ashfield Towns Fund, the Education and Skills Funding Agency, D2N2 LEP, NTU and the College.

Andrew Cropley, Principal and Chief Executive of West Nottinghamshire College, said: “It is excellent news that the devolution deal for D2N2 has already released this funding to enable us to invest immediately in technology and skills to respond to the construction industry’s transition to low-carbon and meet wider ambitions to achieve net-zero.

“A common issue faced by employers is the need to access more workers trained in green skills in new and emerging areas, such as rail and drainage infrastructure, heat pumps, and modern on-site and off-site construction methods.

“This investment will boost skills, earnings and economic output in a critical growth sector, and support house-building across the region. Not only will it provide enhanced training opportunities for local people, employers across the region will also benefit from a ready-made pipeline of new talent. ”

Professor Richard Bull, Deputy Dean of the School of Architecture, Design and Built Environment at Nottingham Trent University, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to further our reputation in the area of low-carbon construction and retrofit, and enable us to deliver high-quality education to enable the low-carbon transition in Mansfield.”

Cllr Matthew Relf, Executive Lead Member for Regeneration and Corporate Transformation at Ashfield District Council, said: “This is excellent news that more funding has been awarded for Ashfield to support one of the projects from the council’s £62.6m Towns Fund. It is an exciting opportunity to create state-of-the-art learning facilities in the area to complement the existing offer.

“When the new centre is up and running it will provide fantastic opportunities to give young people future-proof skills, ensuring they can secure employment in the sector. With a focus on low-carbon construction, the new training centre will be leading the way for the East Midlands.”

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    About Nottingham Trent University

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked second best university in the UK in the Uni Compare Top 100 rankings (2021/2022). It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with nearly 39,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.

    Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

    NTU is ranked 2nd most sustainable university in the world in the 2022 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Government cash boost towards cutting-edge training centre for green skills

Published on 19 December 2022
  • Category: Mansfield; Press office

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