West Midlands rolls out training courses in construction and digital

Simulated construction training

Local unemployed people are learning the latest construction skills using virtual reality simulators, thanks to training funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

But that’s not the only skill that the region’s young people can benefit from. School and college students are set to learn vital digital skills through the region’s first cyber security and hacking lab. The WMCA is also providing £100,000 of funding to create an ethical hacking, computer network and security challenge centre in the West Midlands, to increase the number of young people developing cyber security skills and raise awareness of the range of careers in the sector. The WMCA is also investing £5 million through the ‘Beat the Bots’ digital retraining fund to equip local people with the skills needed to gain new jobs in the digital sector.

The WMCA’s construction funding will see it join forces with Solihull College & University Centre, Birmingham-based RMF Construction Training Academy and education equipment provider Tenstar Simulation to install four simulators at the College in the first training programme of its kind in the region.

The move is one of a number of WMCA initiatives to train local people in the construction skills needed to help the region build its way out of the Covid-19 economic shutdown.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Construction was one of the best performing sectors before the coronavirus outbreak hit, and we know that large infrastructure projects, such as HS2, will be key to our economic recovery.

“Training local people to operate modern plant is a crucial part of the advanced construction skills that the industry will need over the coming years. The training we are funding will also help make sure that the jobs being created go to local people.”

The WMCA is funding training on the equipment through its Construction Gateway programme, which offers unemployed people free construction training and a guaranteed job interview at the end of the course.

Using the special equipment, more learners will be able to gain construction qualifications.

John Callaghan, Principal and CEO of the College, said: “Learners will be able to build their confidence and competence on a variety of machines in a controlled setting before moving on to real construction plant.

“The simulators will also help to ensure we are Covid-19 compliant and reduce our carbon footprint.”

The training is for adults aged 19 and over, particularly unemployed people and ex-offenders.

Up to 50 residents are currently learning on the simulators in a five-week pilot at the college, which plans to incorporate simulated training into its WMCA-funded construction courses from this September.