A new construction plant training centre at City of Wolverhampton College will help local people start a new career in the industry, thanks to funding from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

The WMCA is funding training at the centre through the Construction Gateway, which offers unemployed people free construction training and a guaranteed job interview at the end of the course.

Based at the college’s Wellington Road campus, the centre will give adults the skills they need to work on major infrastructure projects in the region, such as HS2, the Midland Metro expansion, new business parks and cycle routes.

The college has developed the centre in partnership with the industry to offer short part time qualifications, NVQs and full cost courses in construction groundworks.

Learners will gain skills in machine operation, maintenance and site health and safety, and will be able to work towards gaining their red and blue Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS) cards which are required to work on construction sites.

Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, who opened the centre, said: “The construction sector is growing rapidly, with new opportunities for up to 100,000 trained workers in the region set to open up over the next ten years.

“But we can only fill these jobs if we have enough workers who are trained and skilled to the right level. Currently we know there is a shortage of skilled plant workers across the West Midlands, so through schemes and training opportunities like those that will be on offer at Wolverhampton’s new Construction Plant Training Centre, we are trying to address this.

“Put simply we want local people to be working on our local infrastructure projects, and I am very pleased to be helping City of Wolverhampton College to give local residents the practical experience and qualifications they need to start their career in construction.” 

Councillor Ian Brookfield, leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and WMCA portfolio holder for economic growth, said: “It’s fantastic that this new training centre at City of Wolverhampton College will enable local people to gain work experience and site ready accreditation, with help from the Construction Gateway.

“With £4.4 billion of investment on site or in the pipeline for the city, helping local residents to get jobs in construction is one way we can ensure the people of Wolverhampton benefit from this economic growth.”

Councillor George Duggins, leader of Coventry City Council and WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills, said: “The construction industry is facing a critical skills shortage. We need to help more people learn the right skills to work in the sector, and the new plant training centre at City of Wolverhampton College is doing exactly that. It’s great to see local people benefiting from these new opportunities.”

Malcolm Cowgill, principal and chief executive at City of Wolverhampton College, said: “We are planning to train 250 people over the next year, giving them the skills and knowledge they need to move into work on significant construction projects in the region.”

Shaun Whickett, aged 33, from Bilston, completed the Construction Gateway at the college 6 months ago after losing his previous job. He is now a groundworker at Wolverhampton company Stave-Con.

He said: “Previously I was working in factories on the minimum wage. This new job gives me the opportunity to have a better life.” 

City of Wolverhampton College will also be launching a new construction plant apprenticeship in the autumn. Supported by a number of partners, including the WMCA, the scheme will enable new or existing staff to combine working for an employer with studying for their construction plant qualifications at college.

To sign up for construction training, contact the National Careers Service West Midlands on 0121 296 5550, or you can find out more information by visiting the National Careers Service or by calling 0800 100 900.