Work starts on £4 million centre to train Northamptonshire’s plumbers and builders of the future

The ground breaking ceremony for the new ACE centre.
The ground breaking ceremony for the new ACE centre.

Work is under way on a multi-million pound training facility to help fill a skills gap in the construction industry.

A £4.75 million Advanced Construction Engineering (ACE) Centre is being built at Northampton College’s Booth Lane campus to train the next generation of builders, plumbers and decorators.

Staff will teach new techniques to ensure the workforce of the future is equipped the latest skills demanded by industry.

Principal Pat Brennan-Barrett, who put the first spade into the ground to officially mark the start of work, said: “The courses we will provide will ensure a pipeline of highly skilled, high quality students, with the technical abilities required by the to fill the skills gap that currently exists; providing a sustainable, long term and modern workforce to the construction industry and related services.”

The centre will include a Digital Lab with a Virtual Reality classroom, 3D printing facilities and industry-standard workshop equipment and should be completed next September.

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth, Jake Berry, said: “The centre is sure to have a lasting impact on the construction and engineering sectors of Northampton and beyond.”

Fifteen major companies, including the likes of Kier, Bowmer & Kirkland, Metcalfe’s and the Murphy Group, have submitted written pledges to act as industry-based partners.

The building was part-funded through external funding from SEMLEP’s Skills Capital Fund.

Judith Barker, director of programmes and governance at SEMLEP, said: “Addressing both the skills gap and the ageing workforce is seen as a top priority within leading construction companies and it’s extremely heartening to see local employers pledging their support for the ACE Centre.”