Petroc opens Engineering Centre to provide essential training for the South West

Petroc’s new Engineering Centre was declared officially open at a launch party attended by industry experts on Wednesday (November 8th).

The site of the former sports hall at the college’s Mid Devon campus has been completely modernised to house state-of-the-art, industry-standard engineering, manufacturing, welding and fabrication technology to meet local training demands, help businesses prepare for new opportunities and provide engineering excellence for the future.

Representatives from the South West’s engineering sector attended the launch where they enjoyed canapés cooked by the college’s catering students, received a tour of the facilities and tried their hand at the site’s new virtual-reality welding machine.

Hubert McPhillips, from The Welding Institute, stressed the importance of engineering training provision to future-proof the industry.

“The skills shortage is a tsunami about to hit the country,” he warned. “Currently a lot of businesses can’t recruit qualified personnel. Having these facilities gives employers the opportunity to stem some of the tide and in the long run will aid the UK’s standing in terms of manufacturing.”

The investment for the new facility partly came from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership in response to developing the skills supply chain for Hinkley Point C.

Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, Steve Hindley CBE DL, said:

“We’re committed to raising skills in the Heart of the South West to ensure that local people can take up the higher value jobs being created through increased demand, from investment in Hinkley Point C and its supply chains.

“Petroc is one of six HE colleges across Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay, where we’ve allocated a total package of £6.5m from our Growth Deal funding to create the Hinkley Point Training Agency. This investment is for improving facilities to help these excellent colleges deliver the high-level training that the HotSW economy demands.”

Neil England, Operations Director at Hinkley Point Training Agency, highlighted the project’s demand for skilled workers.

He explained: “Petroc is part of our network to support the Hinkley project and we will be working with the team here to make sure we can provide as many local people for the project, and to provide training for people who might lose staff to big projects. We want to leave a valuable legacy for the South West.”

Petroc is also working with a number of partners, including the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB), to ensure training is industry-specific. The first students to study at the Engineering centre began their courses in September and the college is also delivering new apprenticeship standards in both engineering maintenance and welding to provide bespoke training for local businesses.

The college’s Principal and CEO Diane Dimond said Petroc is excited to work with local employers to create new opportunities in the sector.

“I am delighted to officially launch our new Engineering Centre and I’m pleased to welcome so many employers to see the facilities,” she said. “Our new facilities will develop skills in engineering and digital technologies for the future and in partnership with these employers.”

The launch also coincided with the college’s Ambitions Academy, where local Year 10 and 11s had the opportunity to learn more about vocational training; the students attending were some of the first to use the new equipment.

Click here to see a gallery from the event