From education to employment

Opening of new Bedford College Engineering Centre

CEO of The Bedford College Group Ian Pryce welcoming guests.

Official opening of Buchanan Centre.

The official opening of the Advanced Engineering and Construction Centre at Bedford College took place on Tuesday October 16th.

Named the Buchanan Centre after the first woman member of the Institution of Civil Engineers Dorothy Donaldson Buchanan (1895 – 1957), the centre was declared open by Professor Helen Atkinson of Cranfield University.

Before cutting the ribbon Professor Helen Atkinson said:  “People with technical skills really do matter to the economy, to help fulfil the requirements of industry.  It is a priviledge to open this new building.”

The Buchanan name reflects the choices of Bedford College in celebrating the best figures in modern technologies and education. The Brundtland Building, a showcase of eco-technologies, is named after Gro Harlem Brundtland a Director General of the World Health Organisation who pioneered sustainable development. The Stansfeld Building is after Margaret who established Bedford College of Physical Development and is considered a national pioneer of widening women’s opportunities.

Local Growth Minister, Jake Berry MP, said: “Our investment in this state of the art Advanced Engineering and Construction Centre at Bedford College demonstrates our commitment to improving skills and training for our young people, which is central to boosting economic growth across the UK and building a country that works for everyone.

 ‘Local Growth Funding worth £2.5 million will ensure that students have the skills and training required to go onto higher engineering and degree level training, supporting local manufacturing and the wider economy for years to come.’

Ian Pryce CBE, CEO of The Bedford College Groupwhich now encompasses Bedford College, Shuttleworth College in Bedfordshire and Tresham College in Northamptonshire, said: “Bedford College has a proud history of preparing young people for careers in engineering. As the industry has evolved so have we and this new Advanced Engineering Centre will provide training opportunities for tomorrow’s technologies for those undertaking apprenticeships to Higher Education courses. This will confirm our position as the No 1 provider of training in the region.”

Hilary Chipping, Chief Executive, SEMLEPsaid:  “Local businesses are demanding more highly-qualified engineers in relevant disciplines needed for the specialist engineering and manufacturing sectors we have in the area. The Buchanan Centre is in prime position to work closely with local employers to respond to their needs by giving students access to state-of-the-art equipment and training. SEMLEP is delighted to support the Bedford College Group with investment through our Local Growth Fund.“

The Buchanan project has cost £5.2 Million from generous donations from public and private organisations, as well as the college’s own funds. This includes £2.5m from SEMLEP’s Local Growth Fund. 

The Connolly Foundation of Bedfordshire which supports training in the construction industry has funded a virtual reality suite allowing students to “walk around” within design concepts. The Connolly Foundation also generously supports apprentices via the college.

HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council England) gave a grant of £170K from the Catalyst Fund to develop a range of market-driven Higher Education (HE) engineering courses. This will expand the current Higher Education courses which include: Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, Sustainable Construction and Building Services and Construction. 

The grant will enable the College to directly address the skills gap in the Engineering and Construction Industries by increasing its ability to design a Higher Education curriculum which delivers more Advanced Engineering and Construction courses at Level 4+ and adapt current models of delivery to suit employer and learner needs. Level 3 students will benefit from a progression guarantee to a Higher level programme.

About Bedford College GroupThe Bedford College Group is the leading provider of post-16 education and training for over 16-year-olds in Bedfordshire. In the summer of 2017 Bedford College merged with Tresham College in Northamptonshire to become the largest group in the SEMLEP region. 

About the Local Growth Fund: Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone. That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing the LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders. 

Some additional key facts: There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England. The government has awarded £9.1bn in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic growth. LEPs are investing in a wider range of projects including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.

About SEMLEP: A public-private partnership set up in 2011 to drive economic growth across the South East Midlands.

Steered by a business-led Board, we work to build a stronger economy by tackling barriers to sustainable growth and supporting job creation for the future prosperity of communities across the South East Midlands.

We bring together the private sector, education providers and the public sector, to steer investment and deliver projects to grow businesses, grow people and grow places.

SEMLEP is responsible for Local Growth Fund and other public monies to support growth projects including business support provided through SEMLEP’s Growth Hub.

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