Supporting the South West Construction Sector through Skills and Training - Bridgwater & Taunton College

As Business Insider has outlined, the coming year looks set to be an important one for the South West property and construction sector, with a number of projects expected to complete, start or progress.

Colleges and training providers have been pivotal in the training, upskilling, recruitment and retention of skilled workers required in the industry to enable these projects to be undertaken, and Bridgwater & Taunton College (BTC) has an enviable track record of collaboration with partner organisations to address these requirements and fill skills gaps.

With a strong a track record of quality and innovation in responding quickly and effectively to industry demand, and its effective stakeholder partnerships, over the years BTC has attracted substantial private investment in state-of-the-art, industry-led facilities for technical and professional skills training. 

The Construction Skills and Innovation Centre (CSIC), located in Cannington, Somerset was built in partnership between the College, Heart of the South West LEP and EDF Energy. Training and up-skilling the construction workforce and civil engineers, the Construction Skills and Innovation Centre replicates a real-life construction site, with industry-standard plant, machinery and equipment. Construction site behaviours and standards are embedded into specific learning around technical knowledge and skills. The centre provides critical skills training and Apprenticeships for infrastructure construction, including nuclear new build, specialising in, groundworks, steel fixing, formwork, water utilities, slinging and lifting, lifting supervision and Appointed Persons Site Supervision and Management courses and many CPCS plant categories.

CSIC is also home to Construction Live – an exciting and unique experiential programme offering groups of delegates the opportunity to experience what it is like to work on a construction site. Now recognised as a vital work experience component to those on Degree and Apprenticeship programmes, Construction Live sees delegates experiencing first-hand how to plan, manage and build a construction project, aligned to any outcomes required for their studies. It reinforces health & safety expectations and high project values and behaviours, preparing candidates for the exacting requirements on real construction projects.

BTC continues to respond to local, regional and national skills agendas in a positive way, maximising the response for businesses looking to upskill their staff or find highly skilled new talent. Its unique model puts employers at the heart of its structure, ensuring courses and qualifications are based on industry need, to help fill skills shortages with highly trained personnel to meet employer requirements.

An example of this is the creation of a Welding Centre of Excellence (WCoE) which is part of the South West Institute of Technology. HPC, working with the HOSWLEP and Bridgwater & Taunton College, together have identified a skills gap in the supply chain demand and are working closely to develop, support and standardise the supply of high quality welders within the region to not only support HPC but to ensure a legacy of a highly skilled workforce which will be attractive to inward investors to the region. A Welding Forum is being set up to ensure that our regional employers who need a skilled welder workforce are informing the onward development of the curriculum and impact of the Welding Centre of Excellence.

Hinkley Point C is working hard to ensure the project benefits people in the South West and beyond. The benefits of HPC range from increasing local employment, creating outstanding new careers in sectors that have seen significant skills and workforce shortages in the past, the development of a sustainable regional supply chain and have been the catalyst for the advancement of new training facilities and qualifications. 

With curriculum development and delivery being supported by ECITB and Weldability Sif to meet the skills and training required in the region, WCoE will provide skills and associated training via an all-through offer from new entrants learning how to weld for the first time, to upskilling experienced and coded welders and extends to training for welding supervisors, co-ordinators, testing and inspection technicians and weld procedure writers.

BTC’s vision for the Welding Centre of Excellence is to contribute to the UK’s industrial strategy, increasing regional and UK productivity and growth through the creation of innovative technical and vocational skills in welding and associated technologies and professions informed by industry, delivering skilled local people, economic growth and prosperity in the South West.

The sustainable partnerships BTC has built with industry, local stakeholders and government are delivering huge benefits for learners, business and the local community, and is playing a pivotal role in shaping local, regional and even national policy. If you would like to have your say at the BTC Welding Forum in early 2020, or would like to talk about partnership working, contact the BTC Business Development team on 01278 655111,

Author: Simon Brewer, Head of Infrastructure Projects at Bridgwater & Taunton College

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