The innovative new building, built by Hampshire County Council and substantially funded by the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), was officially handed over, on 13 October 2017, to Basingstoke College of Technology, which is operating the centre, and providing its comprehensive range of vocational training courses in the construction sector, including apprenticeships.
The Home and Communities Agency secured an award of £3.8 million to fund the project, through the Local Growth Fund Grant from the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, and then selected the County Council to build the new facility and identify an operator. The County Council also put £250,000 towards the building costs for the new centre.
Although the focus is on training for the construction sector, the centre is the new local hub for technical training and will host a broad adult and community learning programme for the wider community.
The first cohort of students is already taking courses at the centre, developing skills in carpentry, brickwork, plumbing and the built environment. Both full time and part time study options are available, as well as apprenticeships.
At the opening ceremony, Damian Hinds MP said: “I was delighted to be part of the official opening of the Future Skills Centre, and to meet students already at work in the new facility. The transformation of the whole Enterprise Zone is truly impressive, and the FSC is a key part of the vision to deliver first- class construction skills that can be used across the Whitehill and Bordon re-generation programme and elsewhere. It’s certainly an exciting time for the area and I would encourage any young person with an interest in construction to take a look at the courses available.”
Anthony Bravo, Principal of Basingstoke College of Technology said: “We’re proud to be playing an important role in training and upskilling the next generation of site operatives and construction professionals. Our curriculum is specifically designed to directly target the current skills needs in the area and together with our investment of just under £200,000 on fitting out the centre and our outstanding industry and employer links, students will be exposed to the latest technologies, designs and developments in the industry.”
Dr Mike Short, CBE, Chairman of Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership said: "The economic regeneration of Whitehill & Bordon is critical and its success is underpinned by the development of skilled individuals. The Future Skills Centre will play a key role in supplying the construction competencies required for the redevelopment of Whitehill & Bordon. The Centre sits alongside other significant investments made by Enterprise M3, including the BASE Bordon Innovation Centre, the Inner Relief Road and the Sustainable Transport Package, bringing our total investment in the area to £28.7m.
“We are pleased by the results of our investments in the area and remain committed to the wider redevelopment of Whitehill & Bordon.”
Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Education, Councillor Peter Edgar said: “The Future Skills Centre is the latest in a series of new, world class technical training facilities we’re delivering across the county, which will transform the skills infrastructure in Hampshire. I’m proud that the Homes and Communities Agency selected the County Council to deliver this ambitious project, and delighted to see the students here who are already on their way to bright new careers in the construction sector.”
The new centre is one part of the master plan to extend and regenerate the town following the departure of the Army training facilities in 2015 and closure of the Bordon Army Garrison - the principal employer in the area. The County Council is actively involved in the provision of the new infrastructure, vital to support the town, including constructing a £20 million relief road that will tie in with the A325 to the north and south of Whitehill and Bordon, and improving school facilities.
The core curriculum at the Future Skills Centre reflects the skills needed in the area, which have been identified by the Construction Industry Training Board, and confirmed by consultation with developers and contractors involved in the regeneration project.
To find out more about Bordon Future Skills Centre, including details of courses and how to apply, visit www.bcot.ac.uk/bordon-fsc/future-skills-centre or follow @BordonFSC on Twitter.