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New construction training centre aims to tap into expected HS2 jobs boom

How the new central area could look (45628288)
How the new central area could look (45628288)

WORK on transforming Stratford College is set to continue – including the building of a new construction training centre – after governors agreed to increase spending to more than £10m.

Some of the older buildings at the Alcester Road campus are to be demolished, while the rest will be refurbished and modernised.

The plans, which will take place over three years, also include a new, green central area for students and upgraded, high-tech television and radio studios.

The college, which three years ago merged with Solihull College and University Centre after getting into financial difficulties, has already seen an investment of £4m and the creation of a new reception and administration area, as well as repairs to buildings, leaks and heating systems.

Chief operating officer Lindsey Stewart explained: “We inherited a poor estate and outdated equipment, however we have recently completed £4m of capital works for phases one and two.

“We plan a further three phases and I’m delighted that as well as our first-class creative provision in many arts-related disciplines – such as music and theatre production, performing arts and media – we are also seeing significant growth in our health and social care, construction, motor vehicle, business and computing provision.”

From September, the college will be teaching students construction skills in a new building, aiming to tap into the need for skilled workers on projects such as HS2.

“We’ve got students who leave Stratford, get on a bus and go to Moreton Morrell and Leamington because there was no construction offered here,” said Mrs Stewart. “Obviously with HS2 developments and the growth in Stratford, there’s a real opportunity for students to get trained up for a skilled job.”

Principal & Chief Executive, John Callaghan (left) and Chief Operating Officer, Lindsey Stewart (right) at Stratford-upon-Avon College (45628284)
Principal & Chief Executive, John Callaghan (left) and Chief Operating Officer, Lindsey Stewart (right) at Stratford-upon-Avon College (45628284)

Future plans also include training drivers for plant machinery, such as excavators and tipper lorries – more jobs that will be in demand over the coming years.

The new construction centre is being supported with a £760,000 grant from Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

The LEP is also supporting the building of a new TV and radio studio. As well as a more professional gallery set-up, the facilities will include a live lounge which can be used by music students.

“What we hope with a lot of this upgrade is that we extend our reach further than 16-18s,” added Mrs Stewart.

“We recognise that Stratford has changed a lot in the last year and Covid has had a huge impact and there are people who need to develop new skills.

“We see the areas that the LEP has funded for us as a resource for the whole of Stratford.”

Another of the college’s aims is to increase its partnerships with the hospitality and catering sectors, helping to provide businesses with skilled employees and plug gaps which may have once been filled by European workers.

More than 1,000 full-time students are expected to attend the college next year, and Stratford is aiming to keep growing numbers in the immediate future, having already increased them by about ten per cent.

“People are starting to understand what the college is about,” added Mrs Stewart.

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