Greater Manchester’s local authorities have approved a £6.95m grant to provide an outstanding new facility at Oldham College for more students to learn building and trade skills.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has given the green light to cover 77.6 per cent of the total project costs from its Skills Capital funding pot.
The decision will see the construction of a modern facility which will be the new home to Oldham College’s fast-expanding construction curriculum, which offers skilled trades, project management and professional construction qualifications through to degree level.
It means the college can address the future needs for its construction provision to meet growing and substantial demand from both local employers and learners.
The building will provide an extra 2,345 sq. metres of additional space on the town centre campus.
This will enable the college to increase the number of construction students by 70 per cent. Construction apprenticeships will also increase by 200 per year, including higher level apprenticeships.
The new facility will also help to reduce operating costs for Oldham College through the demolition of two campus facilities which will be obsolete for teaching use beyond 2020/21. It will also mean more capacity for English as a Second Language (ESOL) provision to meet local needs.
Councillor Sean Fielding, GMCA Portfolio Lead for Education, Skills, Work and Apprenticeships – who is also Oldham Council Leader – said: “This is great news for Oldham College – and for the prospects and hopes of many young people.”
“We’re working hard to make Greater Manchester a region where everyone has the opportunity to get on in life. Making sure that we can equip young people with the right skills to grasp the growing opportunities on offer is vital to that.
“This grant will give Oldham College a new industry standard construction centre with modern facilities for learners in traditional and more higher level technical and management roles. Last year there was a 30 per cent increase in enrolments in construction learning at Oldham College and its important they can cope with the increasing demand in this sector.”
Jonathan Edwards, Chair of Governors at Oldham College, said: “We are very pleased that our bid has been approved and detailed work can now begin on building the new construction centre.”
“Construction is a major growth sector, both in technical trades and in higher professional skills such as project management, surveying and facilities management. The industry offers fantastic careers at all levels and is genuinely open to all, irrespective of background or gender. A key aspect of this project is to work with partners and schools so that young people and adults in Oldham realise what is available and make better choices about their future.”
Alun Francis, Oldham College Principal and Chief Executive, added; “People will be reading the national debates about university tuition fees and the need for our post-16 system to change to meet the needs of the economy.”
“What is needed is more work based, flexible ways of achieving high skilled qualifications as alternatives to the old A-level and three year residential university degree. This investment is helping Oldham move to that better system.
“Since 2012 the College has secured over £40m of investment in our Campus and the town has new and modern facilities in digital, creative industries, health and social care, finance and professional services, retail and commercial and now construction. Alongside University Campus Oldham, nearly all these pathways progress through to degree level skills, delivered locally and our apprenticeship programme offers a wide variety of work-based choices.
“Our Ofsted report confirms that the quality of the provision, the level of pastoral support and the behaviour of our learners, are all consistently very good. There is more to come before the whole project is complete, but this funding is another major achievement for the College and the town.”