Learners on track for first-class education as Centre of Excellence is complete
Wales’s next generation of railway workers are on the track to success, as the final stages of investment at Coleg y Cymoedd’s £3.08 million rail engineering facility are complete.
The final ‘topping out’ stage at the Nantgarw campus follows a £1.54 million investment by the Welsh Government into an indoor state-of-the-art facility that will position the college as a Railway Training Centre of Excellence in the industry.
Along with staff and learners, Edwina Hart AM, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport attended the topping out event at the Nantgarw site, giving her a chance to see first-hand the second stage of Welsh Government funding.
The college launched the rail engineering apprenticeship in September 2014 after developing a purpose built replica track on site. Thanks to the second stage of investment, budding rail engineers will be privy to new classrooms and workshop training facilities, meeting the needs for excellence training in the industry. The new facilities will be fully complete and up-and-running for the September 2015 intake of learners.
At the event, Mrs Hart said: “A skilled workforce is vital for the growth of the Welsh economy which is why I am delighted to see how Welsh Government support has helped create this training centre of excellence for the rail industry. It will provide young people with the first class skills and hands on work experience needed to open up interesting career opportunities that are set to increase with the planned electrification of rail infrastructure in Wales.”
The new building is currently on target to achieve BREEAM Excellent status, the environmental assessment for buildings. The facility has been designed with sustainable features including triple glazed windows in order to reduce the need for additional heating. The college put significant emphasis on community benefits in the building process, committing to using 85 per cent of labourers and companies from Wales to deliver the facility.
The completion of the centre is especially timely leading up to plans to electrify the Valley lines and London rail links. This will not only improve services for train passengers, but also provide employment opportunities for a huge labour force in South Wales. Aspiring rail engineers will now have access to the most up-to-date facilities to train in the industry.
The existing rail apprenticeship training is being jointly delivered by Coleg y Cymoedd and specialist rail recruitment firm McGinley Support Services. The partnership with McGinley means that the learners will gain essential skills in a realistic environment, and head straight out to work with McGinley for a year of guided learning in the industry.
Coleg y Cymoedd now offers Level 1 Rail Engineering as part of its main curriculum. This programme is unique in that it offers both rail engineering and civil engineering making learning about the industry more accessible. Much like the apprenticeship, learners will be put into realistic workplace situations, gearing them up for the real environment.
Celebrating the completion of the facility, principal of Coleg y Cymoedd, Judith Evans, said, “We’re thrilled that the final stages of our new rail centre are now complete to provide first class training to our learners. With major rail investment programmes planned for the coming years, these learners will hopefully fill a large job market coming to South Wales.
“We’re grateful to Welsh Government for their ongoing support and their confidence in Coleg y Cymoedd’s ability to deliver excellent education, training and career opportunities to young people”
The college has received further support in the process of developing the rail engineering facility with independent education charity, the Edge Foundation, awarding the college £100,000 to set up the Centre for Excellence. In addition, construction company Speedy donated over £5000 worth of tools for the apprentices, and civil engineers Walters UK also gave a financial donation in support.