From education to employment

University of Bolton and Willmott Dixon ensure community legacy

University of Bolton and Willmott Dixon ensure community legacy

The University of Bolton is collaborating with contractor Willmott Dixon to provide a series of employment initiatives during the construction of the £40m Institute of Medical Sciences (IMS), a clinical skills training facility due to open in September 2024.

Based in the grounds of the Royal Bolton Hospital in Farnworth, the facility marks a new beginning for the future of healthcare training in Bolton and the North West.

Whilst its doors are still a year away from opening, IMS has been engaging the local community since construction began back in October 2022. It has introduced a raft of programmes and initiatives designed to boost local employment and give back to the community. 

Overseeing these initiatives and heading up the project for Willmott Dixon is IMS Build Manager Gareth Fallows – a former University of Bolton student himself. Gareth graduated in 2013 in architectural technology, and has now gone on to manage the University’s single biggest capital project in decades. 

Gareth says: 

“I’m honoured to be working on such an exciting project, both for the university and the local community. Leading on a project that will result in a cutting-edge facility that will put our area on the map is humbling and it’s really good to see IMS getting the local community involved in the way they have.”

Gareth’s team is now providing multiple employment opportunities on-site to support university and college students with their practical knowledge. 

Michelle Anaela, studying for an MSc in Construction Management at the University of Bolton, is currently completing a three-month paid internship at IMS. 

Speaking about the opportunity, Michelle said: 

“Being given the opportunity to gain hands-on experience on a project such as this one is hugely important to me. Learning from the team and seeing how they handle challenges and solve problems has really strengthened my commitment to a career in the sector. I’m hugely grateful to Willmott Dixon for this opportunity.”

Delivering for students of all ages and study levels, Bolton College learners will continue on the site in the next academic year. Students from the Design, Surveying and Planning T-Level will begin their placements in mid-September, shadowing a project team onsite. This time spent at IMS accounts for 20% of their total qualification and will see them onsite once a week until July.  

In addition to Willmott Dixon’s work with students across Bolton, it has also made IMS a live site within its Building Lives Academy. The Academy supports those not currently in employment or education and recent care leavers. Those involved in the IMS project are all Bolton residents aged between 19 and 25. 

The Academy will provide classroom learning and a two-week work experience placement on site at IMS. All participants will be offered a guaranteed interview at the end of their placement. 

The project has also surpassed its initial minimal local spend figure of £6m and is now approaching £10m, largely through local employment and supply-chain expenditure. IMS aims to contribute £150m to the local economy over its lifetime. 

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