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Under construction: NCC begins east campus upgrade

2 Nov 11 Highly anticipated plans to develop a state of the art construction college were announced today, after the National Construction College (NCC), the training arm of CITB-ConstructionSkills, secured funding toward the redevelopment of the NCC East Campus in Bircham Newton, Norfolk.

The project officially kick-started this week with the construction of two new learner accommodation blocks of 80 en-suite rooms complete with Wi-Fi access, and an onsite energy centre housing a sustainable biomass boiler that will power the new buildings.

This £5.2m phase of redevelopment is planned to come to an end in summer 2012, and it is hoped if funding can secured to carry out further redevelopment in the future with the possibility of adding;

An additional learner accommodation block;

Youth welfare block;

Sports facility;

Constructionarium (hands-on construction experience for students and young professionals); and

Refurbished learner and visitor accommodation including the Birches hotel.

The redevelopment is at the heart of the College’s 20/20 vision to offer facilities that are more suited to 21st century learning, while enhancing overall student experiences and ensuring that Europe’s largest construction college continues to provide specialist training as the industry emerges from the recession and embraces new innovative methods of construction.

Mark Farrar, Chief Executive of CITB-ConstructionSkills, said: “The recession has changed our industry, and while we’re not out of the woods yet – we need to start planning for the future – to make sure that we can provide the specialist training that our industry needs to help businesses become more productive and meet client demands of the future.”

“We need to build a construction college that has facilities to match the high standard of training provided and the project will regenerate the college’s infrastructure to that of a modern first class training institution, encompassing quality, sustainability and affordability.”

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The NCC East  Campus will be the national specialist hub for the National Skills Academy for Construction (NSAfC); providing world class training for managers, for graduates and for trainees in specialist construction skills.

Andy Walder, Director of the National Construction College, added: “This redevelopment has been a long time in the planning and it’s fantastic to finally begin work on this long awaited programme for the College. To get us to this stage has taken lots of hard work with dedicated partners, and the benefits to our students will be visible from as early as next year.

“Our vision is simple – we want to create a 21st century learning environment that reflects the needs and expectations of modern students both today and in future. We’ve invested employer funds wisely in this programme for the benefit of industry, so that not only do learners get a the skills, knowledge and experience they need from the NCC, but they also have all the things they expect from a first-class learning institution.”

Funding for Phase 1 has been secured from the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) (£1.7m), Skills Funding Agency (£1.7m) and the balance (£1.8m) is being met by CITB-ConstructionSkills. Morgan Sindall has been appointed as to deliver the build programme.

EEDA has supported the redevelopment of NCC from as early as 2006 and has been involved with the development of proposals for the site.

Alison Webster, Executive Director, Enterprise & Skills at EEDA, said: “EEDA has long supported the redevelopment at NCC in order to secure the long-term viability of the facility. The College provides some 700 high quality jobs to the local economy which is one of the economically weaker parts of our region.  Achieving the funding required to begin this next stage of redevelopment for NCC, the local and regional economy and the benefit of specialist construction skills for nation-wide deployment, has taken more effort and persistence than one might have expected.

“EEDA is delighted to support the project, which will provide a sound basis for the start of NCC’s redevelopment plan.  As an organisation EEDA is sad that we will not be around to contribute to future redevelopment of NCC but we are content that the two accommodation blocks will remain as testament to EEDA’s legacy in the region”.

Geoff Russel, Chief Executive, of the SFA, adds: “Skills are a crucial investment by employers into their workforce that will help drive growth and prepare them for the challenges of the future.  This joint investment in the National Construction College by government and the industry body will provide facilities for world-class skill development in the construction sector.

Gavin Napper, Area Director, Morgan Sindall, said: “The quality of the learning environment should never be taken for granted and we welcome the opportunity to bring Morgan Sindall’s skills and expertise in the education sector to bear on this project. The updated facilities will match the superb training offered by the NCC.” 

The NCC is Europe’s largest construction training provider, delivering quality and affordable courses at eight sites and additional training venues for up to 25,000 learners each year. The College works with employers to provide both bespoke and specialist training, in addition to producing a wide selection of first class learning materials to complement training courses.  

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