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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Growing new skills at Lakes College

APPRENTICES from Lakes College were given a rare opportunity this month to work on the new Construction Skills Centre at Lillyhall.

The structure is being built on the Lakes College site in a project led by Cumbria County Council.

The roof and final external walls are now being put on, and the £7m project is on track for completion in April.

The building has been designed to be flexible and changeable to suit future needs, with internal walls that can be removed and repositioned to suit changes in what and how students will learn.

The centre will have teaching spaces and workshops for up to 600 students by September and will be run by Lakes College.

In January plumbing and electrical apprentices went on site and got to work on the building process.

Scores of trainees, studying through the college’s construction and engineering-related courses, put their names forward to be a part of the process and leave their life-long mark on the skills centre.

Each week a handful of apprentices will be given the chance of working alongside industry professionals from Esh Construction, which was awarded the £5.5m building contract in January 2012.

Chris Moffatt, 19, is a level one plumbing apprentice who has worked for two days on the structure.

He said he was given the opportunity to work on the development after he was shown around by his course tutor and who then put his name forward.

The site manager then chose him for his potential and he began working alongside the 60-strong team from Esh.

He said: “I have fit in so much in the two days I have worked on site, it’s unbelievable. I’ve really been involved by the team working on projects like the plant room where the boiler equipment is.

“There I’ve been helping to thread pipes into the system and tightening other pipe works and routes.”

He said it has helped cement his learning that’s usually done at college.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. Especially as I’ve been working so closely alongside the professionals, and it’s given me the chance to ask plenty of questions.”

Raymond Dockeray, 17, is a level two electrical apprentice chosen to work on site. He said: “I’ve been helping to fit wires and cables right through the building and it’s been great to see how the professionals have got around certain issues that you don’t usually come across as an apprentice in college.

“A lot of the work we’ve been getting involved with has been a big step up from what we’re used to doing, so it’s been great to get our teeth into a real project like this.

“We’ve had a lot of help from the team from Esh, who have given us some great advice along the way.”

Raymond added that he will take away some invaluable skills from his time on site, including various techniques used to change cables.

Fellow electrical apprentice Stephen Show, 18, said: “I’m so pleased I put my name forward to come and work on site.

“It’s been a great learning experience from start to finish.

“Working alongside the professionals on a real-life job has been priceless for us as you never get a chance like this to leave your mark on a building which will be here for years to come.”

Sean Coin, project manager for Esh Group, said the apprentices have shown excellent initiative and skill in the short time they have been on site.

He said: “Spending time with our engineers has meant the apprentices have seen the work being done or have been guided through it, so it’s been a great opportunity for them to really get their teeth into something.

“It’s a fantastic modern building and there have been plenty of things for the apprentices to do during their time with us.

“There was a lot of interest from the apprentices to get involved and we’ve been amazed at their level of skill.”

Lakes College deputy principal Karen Wilson said: “All the partners are delighted with the progress and developments happening on the Construction Skills Centre.

“Building work on the centre is on time and the exterior of the building is almost completed, work on the inside looks to start imminently so it will be exciting to see these advances taking place.

“The construction and energy industry in West Cumbria will benefit greatly because their future workers will be taught the highest and most up to date skills by the college and other providers in the area.

“An added bonus has been the opportunity for our current students to gain real-life work experience through placements with the contractors. The building itself has become a learning resource through this construction phase as much as it will be once completed.”

Lakes College has provided the land which the Construction Skills Centre has been built on and £1m funding while Britain’s Energy Coast Campus has invested £2m.

Britain’s Energy Coast is investing £4m in the project from funding partner Nuclear Management Partners.

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