New £10m training centre for apprentices opens in Basildon
The Prospects Learning Foundation has opened the country's first Group Training Association (GTA) centre since the Government welcomed findings of a report by Professor Lorna Unwin on the role that GTAs can play in engaging young people in apprenticeships.
There are now 300 employed apprentices and 200 FE students are now enjoying state-of-the-art facilities in a new £10 million building in Basildon which offers courses across a wide range of disciplines in building services. These include heating and ventilation, plumbing, electrical installation, refrigeration and air conditioning.
At the opening ceremony, leaders of the Government's National Apprenticeship Service and the Education Funding Agency were joined by a host of other national and local VIPs to celebrate the formal opening of the new centre. They toured the new workshops, seminar rooms, auditorium, restaurant and a learning resource centre before Simon Wells, director of Delta T Services, declared the GTA open for business.
The opening of a GTA for building services follows the Foundation's earlier establishment of two GTAs across the Thames Gateway for aviation and engineering services respectively. The charity also runs the unique Futures secondary school in Southend offering 11-to 19-year olds a blended academic and vocational curriculum in an innovative environment which incorporates an apprenticeship training centre.
The new employer-led GTA forms part of the Foundation's skills campus in Basildon which already trains 500 engineering and construction apprentices and students. During National Apprenticeship Week earlier this year, Ofsted cited the campus as one of three examples of 'Learning from the Best' apprenticeship provision in the country.
Neil Bates, chief executive of Prospects Learning Foundation, said: "The new campus is attracting the interest of some major national employers who want to invest in the skills of young people for their highly skilled workforces. Because the GTA is led by local employers, businesses can easily appreciate the modern, industry led skills training areas on offer.
"When apprentice numbers for 16-to 18-year olds in construction and engineering have been falling nationally, the opening of a GTA in Basildon is a very timely and positive reminder of the value that GTAs can bring to the skills agenda on a not-for-profit basis, as Professor Lorna Unwin' s Commission report on GTAs has recently highlighted."
David Way, the chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, said: "The opening of the new centre at Basildon reinforces the important role that GTAs play in engaging young people in apprenticeships. I am delighted to see such a high level of investment which underpins our commitment to raising the quality of apprenticeships and supports important sectors including engineering and construction. With the support of major employers we can show young people and their parents that there are clear opportunities to climb the ladder right to the top through taking up apprenticeships."