From education to employment

A new engineering and construction vocational training college is officially opened in Basildon.

The £5.3 million Prospects College was formally opened by Bill Rammell, Minister at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and local MP Angela Smith.

Over three years the college aims to raise the skills of 135 people, ensure that 240 students gain a Level 2 National Vocational Qualification, and assist 450 businesses with improving their performance.

The college has already had 200 apprentices sign up, and has directly created 15 jobs. The talent pool will be widened through supporting Black and Minority Ethnic communities and women into construction and engineering.

Trainees will be provided with relevant skills, and be supported into jobs, in areas such as mechanical engineering, bricklaying, carpentry and joinery, fabrication and welding, and aircraft maintenance.

The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) gave £2.85 million to assist refurbishment of the vocational college.

George Kieffer, deputy chair of EEDA, said: “EEDA is very pleased to see Prospects College officially open its doors to students. The college will kick-start the area’s enterprise engine and make a huge difference to the residents and businesses in the Basildon area. It will raise the skills and aspirations of local people in one of the most deprived wards in the country, and in the Thames Gateway South Essex area.

“The aeronautical engineering training provided is in high demand from businesses based at Stansted and Southend airports and this is one of the few centres in the UK able to offer this training. Expansion of the facility by Prospects College will allow more local people to enter into a growing, high value industry.”

Neil Bates, from Prospects College, said: “All the young apprentices with us are employed by local employers, and there are some major employers supporting the centre. We encourage the employers to become involved in the day-to-day activity of the centre, and to support their apprentices both at college and in the workplace. The centre is a major investment for the Prospects Learning Foundation and is now the biggest centre for construction and engineering in the South East.”

George Kieffer added: “Basildon Vocational College will make a concrete start to delivering the vision of creating the Basildon Enterprise Corridor as one of the region’s premier business locations, as well as serving the needs of key employment sectors for South Essex. The college will allow space to be rented for community and business meetings in an area that otherwise lacks such facilities.”

Paul Malbon

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