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TUCA welcomes first students

The UK’s first dedicated Tunnelling and Underground Construction Academy (TUCA) due to open by early 2012, in east London at Ilford, has welcomed its first students as phased opening gets underway.

Supporting the Crossrail TUCA project, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “I am a huge supporter of the aims of this academy and I am thrilled that it is now enrolling its first students.

“Many thousands of people will be working on Crossrail and it will provide a huge economic boost to the capital.”

The academy will offer training to at least 3,500 people in underground construction alone over the lifetime of the project.

The main aim is to address the shortage of people with the necessary skills to work on Crossrail and other tunnelling projects in London and the UK.

The courses to be offered include the Tunnel Safety Card, a pre-requisite for anyone who will work below ground on Crossrail, and Construction Skills Certification Scheme health and safety card training.

Vocational courses initially on offer are pre-cast concrete manufacture and tunnel operations training.

Also, work to install tunnelling plant and machinery in the major vocational training areas, including a static tunnel boring machine and a simulated tunnel environment, will be complete by the end of the year, providing students to gain experience in the practical skills required for underground construction.

Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan said: “TUCA will have a critical role to play in equipping people, particularly those from along the Crossrail route, with the necessary training and skills to work below ground.

“The Academy will not only act as a centre of excellence for tunnelling and underground construction in the UK but also for European tunnelling projects longer-term.”

Crossrail will invest up to £7.5m, while £5m in funding has been provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills via the Skills Funding Agency.

National Construction College (NCC) has been appointed to deliver skills and training at the academy and to complete the development of the curriculum and deliver its full range of accredited and bespoke skills programmes.

BASF Meyco Equipment are to donate plant and construction supplies worth £600,000 to TUCA.
Morgan added: “I’m delighted we have secured this major industry commitment towards TUCA, donation of plant and machinery will provide students with the opportunity to gain first-hand practical experience of working with?tunnelling equipment.”

Facilities at TUCA will replicate the key areas of a fully-automated tunnelling
project, which include a simulated tunnel boring machine environment, supported by a TBM backup area, with a loco and narrow gauge railway to the rear.

Also, there will be a separate chamber for sprayed concrete operations in addition to a large underground construction workshop.

The academy will offer world-class training with an Industry Advisory Panel, comprising representatives from client and contractor organisations involved in underground construction and representatives of utilities Thames Water and National Grid.

It will have four teaching rooms, a test centre for online safety tests, a large
refectory and a learning resource centre.

Aastha Gill

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