Construction apprenticeship training centre to open in Bicester next year

Abingdon & Witney and Speller Metcalfe construction skills centre

A construction industry apprentice training centre is set to open in Bicester next year. Launched as part of Abingdon & Witney College’s apprenticeship programme, the announcement was made following planning permission approval for the £1 million refurbishment of four former warehouse units on Churchill Road.

The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP) secured £934,611 of funding for the project via the government’s Local Growth Fund.

The facility, being built by Malvern-headquartered Speller Metcalfe, will provide opportunities for apprentices to train for the fast-growing property maintenance sector, alongside traditional professional trades such as plumbing, electrical installation, carpentry and joinery.

The first cohort of apprentices will start in February 2021.

The centre will house the type of industry-standard equipment that apprentices will find in the workplace, including a professional gas centre, electrical training bays for wiring regulation training and a large carpentry workshop.

Jacqui Canton, deputy principal of the College, who will become principal in September, said: “In Oxfordshire you can see the amount of building going on at the moment. There’s such a shortage in infrastructure workers. Training for the future is needed.”

Adrian Speller, Technical Director at Speller Metcalfe, said: “The Construction skills shortage has been a very real issue for our industry for many years, and we are delighted to be working alongside the college to deliver a purpose-built facility that will benefit the local community and the industry as a whole.”

He added: “Sadly, support for adult apprentices can often be in short supply but they are an incredibly valuable asset – often bringing many transferable skills, so this centre will be invaluable in supporting a wide pool of apprenticeships, from traditionally younger students to those looking for a new career path.”