The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, visited (11 September 2020) the site of the future Construction Skills Accelerator Centre (CSAC), to hear from the visionary team behind the innovative project.
The CSAC, which has received almost £2m of government funding via Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, GFirst LEP, will be built in Cinderford, Forest of Dean, establishing a centre of excellence to inspire, train and connect people entering and advancing within the construction industry.
The Minister met with Managing Director of the CSAC and a Director of K W Bell Group, Nicola Bird, whose vision to develop an industry-led solution to the construction skills shortage has spearheaded the project, and Peter Bell, Managing Director of K W Bell Group, which is co-funding the project.
Nicola Bird said: “We’re very appreciative of the interest taken by the Secretary of State in this project. At the moment, everyone’s attention is focused on the practicalities of getting a building out of the ground – we’re ‘shovel-ready’ as soon as the planning process is complete. But it was great to discuss with the Minister our vision for the impacts we can achieve here, once the centre is up and running.
“We have a unique opportunity to develop real and virtual learning environments that are designed by the industry, for the industry, inspiring a new generation while supporting those already in the construction industry to upskill.”
The visit was also attended by Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, Member of Parliament for the Forest of Dean, who commented: “I am proud to have K W Bell leading the way in the house-building sector and operating in the heart of the Forest of Dean for over 50 years, rightly benefitting from just under £2 million of Government support.
“The CSAC will provide an industry-leading training facility based in the heart of the Forest of Dean, having been thoughtfully designed to link the construction industry with education by providing a learning environment that is digitally advanced, safe, interactive and relevant.
“I have pressed Ministers about these schemes and I am very pleased that they have listened to my calls for increased funding for innovative and truly shovel-ready projects in the Forest of Dean.”
Led by K W Bell Group, with the support of industry employers including global giant JCB, in collaboration with Gloucestershire College and the University of Gloucestershire, the CSAC will be focused on developing job-ready men and women, equipped with knowledge and practical experience of the latest technological advances in sustainability and digital construction.
The visit was also attended Sarah Danson, Director of Strategic Growth, GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership.