The Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Hugh Duberly Esq, today performed the official opening of the £7.2m Technology Centre at the Isle campus of the College of West Anglia at Wisbech.
On his arrival he unveiled a plaque to mark the event where he was welcomed by College Principal David Pomfret, VIPs and college personnel.
The multi-million centre has been funded by Cambridgeshire County Council, Fenland District Council and the College of West Anglia.
Mr Duberly, the Queen’s representative in Cambridgeshire, addressed an audience of around 45 people gathered at the centre.
He said the new Technology Centre was a “really splendid building.”
“It is a marvellous facility for the young people in this college. The centre is teaching the skills we need.”
The Lord Lieutenant was presented with an aluminium paperweight, made by students, as a reminder of his visit.
He spent around an hour being shown all the different sections, talking to lecturers and was impressed by the students he got to meet.
He said the college and its students played an important role in Fenland and the rest of Cambridgeshire, where he learned how the centre was successful in helping young people find future employment.
A the opening Mr Pomfret said: “This new £7.2m Technology Centre offers state of the art facilities including high quality teaching rooms, a conference room and specialist workshops in engineering, electrical and plumbing, CAD/CAM/ICT, motor vehicle, body shop and spray booth.
“The centre enables us to further develop our support to the critically important engineering and manufacturing businesses in Fenland and the surrounding areas, ensuring we continue to change lives through leaning and meet the skills needs of the local economy.
“The college of West Anglia now supports over 1,200 apprentices annually, approximately 50 per cent of which are in technology sectors and this centre, together with the new £5.7m Technology Centre at the King’s Lynn Campus, enables us to extend the range of high quality qualifications and bespoke training.
“The Technology Centre is one of the most important developments in Fenland in recent years. It is an example of highly effective partnership working.
“The centre would not have been possible without the support of Cambridgeshire County Council and Fenland District Council who invested £5m and £1.5m respectively.
“Together with the development of Awdry House on the Campus by CCC, the centre has transformed the Campus and represents a landmark investment in Wisbech in support of Wisbech 20:20 Vision.
“I would like to thank CCC and FDC for having the vision and confidence to invest in CWA and skills during the recession.
The future of education, training and skills in Fenland looks very bright as we have recently announced a further £5.5m new build and refurbishment programme to take place at the campus over the next year and a half.
Guests were given a tour of the new building and saw how students are trained to meet industry standards.
The first phase of the Technology Centre has been in use for students since Easter 2013 and is considered a superb facility for Fenland.
The new centre offers state of the art workshops, classrooms and conference centre covering areas including engineering, motor vehicle, motor sport, plumbing, welding and fabrication, paint shop and Computer Aided Design (CAD).
Giving their views for a College of West Anglia media report, Cambridgeshire County Councillor Steve Count, who is a governor at the College of West Anglia and cabinet member for resources, said: “Improving job skills in Wisbech is part of the Wisbech 2020 Vision and we have been working closely with the College and Fenland District Council in helping this to be a reality.
“The new block is part of a larger investment on the site, including the newly opened Awdry House which has brought Council services into one place. This makes it easier for the community to access services.”
Councillor Chris Seaton, Fenland District Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member responsible for skills development, said: “Helping to raise skills levels in Fenland has long been a priority for us as a council. We know how important it is for the economic and social wellbeing of the whole district.
“That’s why back in 2010 we decided to put £1.5 million towards helping to develop this fantastic centre. Now we can see the fruits of that investment. Over the coming years, by providing much needed skills and training opportunities, it will greatly improve the job prospects of our young people and help the local economy to grow.”