The simulators will be used to train apprentices and trainees at the National Construction College in Norfolk how to operate excavators, cranes, loaders, dozers, telehandlers, tractors and dumper trucks.
The simulators were supplied by CM Labs in Canada and TenStar in Sweden.
CITB head of education & training Graham McPhail, said: “This is the first large-scale investment into plant simulator technology anywhere in the UK. New methods of technology are playing an increasingly important role in construction and this investment will help us modernise the way we train.”
Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership contributed £450,000 for the new equipment, with the balance coming from CITB’s own funds.
CITB’s latest skills forecast predicts that close to 5,000 additional plant operatives will need to be trained up over the next five years.
Josh Missin, a 24-year-old plant apprentice from Wisbech who works with plant-hire firm Mervyn Lambert, has been training on the simulators. He said: “The simulators are great. As someone who had never used any form of plant machinery before, I was quite nervous before doing so. However, the simulators allowed me to quickly learn how certain controls worked, which meant I felt much more confident when using the machines in real life.
“They are also good when bad weather would stop us from using the real machines, as you don’t feel like you’ve lost a day’s work.