College’s skilful future

View of new entrance
View of new entrance

A NEW multi-million bound technology block at the College of West Anglia’s Isle Campus is an investment in the future of Fenland.

And the new £7.2 million facility is proof the college is set to stay in Wisbech for the long term.

South East Corner of new building

South East Corner of new building

That was the message given out by the college on Wednesday when it unveiled artist’s impressions of the new building, which is to go up this autumn.

The 2,700sqm Technology Centre will be a state of the art facility that will enable Fenland’s young people to learn engineering skills to help them gain top jobs in one of the area’s biggest industries.

About 17 per cent of jobs in Fenland are in engineering - well above the national average of around 10 per cent - but there is a lack of qualified people to take on roles offered.

The College of West Anglia is hoping to plug the gap by encouraging both boys and girls to go into engineering.

Mark Reavell, the college’s Director of Employer Engagement and Estates, who is overseeing the project, explained: “There is a skills gap locally and employers find it difficult to fill vacancies because people don’t have the necessary qualifications.

“The technology block will provide a centre of learning to teach people skills in all areas of engineering from welding and metal fabrication and motor sport, to electro-technicians and Computer Aided Design,” explained Mr Reavell.

And Jill Francis, Executive Director Partnerships at the Isle Campus, said the opportunities offered by the new centre will be just as suited to girls.

“Engineering is not what it used to be, it is not all dirt and grease and there are just as many job opportunities for girls as there are for boys in engineering. In fact employers are crying out for girls to take on these roles,” said Mrs Francis.

The new centre is just part of a major financial commitment being made by the college on its Wisbech site.

Around £1.2m has been spent on new windows and roofing on A and B blocks.There has been redecorating throughout and Mrs Francis said: “Staff and students will definitely notice a difference when they walk through the doors. The new windows will improve energy efficiency as well as making the building look more modern.”

Both Mr Reavell and Mrs Francis stressed the new investment was a statement of how committed the College of West Anglia is to staying in Wisbech.

“There has been some negativity because we have relocated some courses to King’s Lynn. But it has been necessary to do that because of funding costs.

“We need to ensure best value for money and by specialising in certain courses like engineering in Wisbech we can do that. We are committed to Wisbech, we are here to stay and that is a message we need to get across not only to young people looking to study, but also to the community at large.