The next phase of construction has been complete at the site of our ultra-modern college in Aberdare, set to revolutionise further education and skills training for hundreds of learners in South Wales.
The £22 million Coleg y Cymoedd campus in the heart of Aberdare officially celebrated its ‘topping out’ ceremony, signifying the point when the entire structure of the campus has been built, before the eventual ‘kitting out’ of the inside of the new college takes place.
Before the official opening in September 2017, contractors will work to prepare the campus for the extended range of courses soon to be offered, including creative arts and media, a sports curriculum and a higher education centre for courses offering Level 4 qualification and above, all featuring at Coleg y Cymoedd in Aberdare for the first time.
The popular textiles and upholstery course will continue at the new campus, which was specifically designed to meet the industry jobs demands of firms in the area.
Alongside courses such as plumbing and electrical, the Aberdare campus will also include a salon and restaurant, meeting the industry standards for learners on the health and beauty course and professional cookery programme respectively. Both the salon and restaurant will be open to the public as a new offering for the community as well as learners.
Staff and learners from the college were joined by Alun Davies AM, who marked the significant milestone in the construction of the new campus by laying cement at the highest point of the building. At the end of 2015, Welsh Government pledged its support for the project by funding 50% of the development, helping to make the Aberdare campus a reality for Coleg y Cymoedd.
Speaking at the event, Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language, Alun Davies, said: “This new campus exemplifies the Coleg’s mission to make excellence in education and skills development a reality for all learners in the communities it serves, in particular changing the face of post-16 education in the south Wales valleys. The Welsh Government recognises that it is vital to the future economy of Wales that education is delivered in fit for the future facilities, which are environmentally responsible, modern and technologically advanced.
“This building promises a fantastic environment to develop confident, motivated learners, and encourage those learners to gain the skills they need to progress and achieve their aspirations, whether progressing to higher education, an apprenticeship programme or employment.”
The state-of-the-art campus, which is being led by specialist construction contractors Kier, will replace Coleg y Cymoedd’s current campus on Cwmdare Road, fitted with modern facilities and designed to meet the needs of young people in education today.
Judith Evans, principal at Coleg y Cymoedd spoke at the topping out event, and said: “This is a hugely exciting project for the college that is starting to really take shape now. Thanks to Kier’s hard work, we’re on track to open the college next September, it will completely reinvigorate post 16 education in Aberdare for hundreds of learners.
“What’s more, we believe the campus will become a hub for the community as they take advantage of the new salon and restaurant run by our learners which is open to the public. As ever, we’re dedicated to providing the best education standards for learners across South Wales, which they all deserve in order to pursue their chosen career.”
The site’s proximity to Aberdare railway station, Aberdare Community School and the town centre will provide learners and staff with significantly improved access to public transport and commuter links from outlying areas. Coleg y Cymoedd has vowed to work closely with the neighbouring schools to create a curriculum that complements and enhances the offering for learners in the region.
Contractors Kier have used the latest sustainable building materials on site throughout the construction following Coleg y Cymoedd’s commitment to the green agenda. Speaking about the construction process, David Wainwright, Commercial Director for Kier Construction Western and Wales said: “Coleg y Cymoedd’s new Aberdare campus is on target to achieve BREEAM Excellence, an accolade that demonstrates the combined team commitment to sustainability. Learners from the college’s existing campuses have been able to visit the site during the build process, and expand their knowledge by experiencing how classroom theories are applied in practice on a live construction site. Students have also been given insight to the vast range of career opportunities available in construction.
“The visits have been welcomed, particularly by the students who are interested in quantity surveying, site management and engineering. Kier Construction have also been working with the local community, and with 75% of the workforce living in the local area, the whole scheme really illustrates the potential opportunities for the youngsters of Aberdare. The new campus will be the starting point for their future.”