The former home to Dove First School in Rocester, Staffordshire, is now under a £1million conversion to become a state-of-the-art apprenticeship training centre.
The plans are part of the expanding apprenticeship programme at The JCB Academy. The JCB Academy is more commonly known for its school and sixth form but a large part of the establishment is the apprenticeship training centre. Employers, including JCB, Michelin, Alpha Manufacturing / Bri-Stor Systems, Orbital Gas Systems and Continental use the training centre to develop their apprentices and have welcomed the news of the new facility.
Apprentice Manager, William Davies-Hill from Bri-Stor Systems, said: “We use The JCB Academy as our training provider and the first-rate training and professionalism that they have delivered is clearly evident in the development of our apprentices. The new training centre can only build upon the excellent standards of training delivered by the academy.”
The new 687sqm Dove Engineering Centre will cater for The JCB Academy’s higher level apprenticeship learners and will include state-of-the-art technology and equipment, enabling the apprentices to develop their skills and knowledge even further.
Director of Apprenticeship Programmes at The JCB Academy, Jim Bailey, said: “The JCB Academy is delighted to be in a position to further enhance the apprentice programme with the development of this fantastic facility. The training centre will add to the outstanding facilities that we have already at the academy and will house some of the latest equipment and technology, enabling our apprentices and learners to further develop their understanding of metrology, systems and mechatronics.”
The former school building and land was purchased by JCB with the £1million conversion costs being mainly funded by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). LEP Chairman, David Frost CBE, commented: “We are delighted to support this showpiece new centre, which will open the door to fulfilling future careers for our young people by training them in the advanced manufacturing and engineering skills that are key to the future success of our economy.
“Enthusing our young people and developing a highly skilled and motivated workforce is key to our aims of attracting inward investment, helping businesses to grow and creating more and better jobs.”
Leader of Staffordshire County Council, Philip Atkins, said: “We have a real focus to drive up skills to meet the workforce needs of Staffordshire business. Engineering and advanced manufacturing are key sectors in Staffordshire so it is important people are trained using the very latest industry techniques and equipment. This proposed new site will complement the other skills hub spokes across the county, and at a time when a lot of young people are thinking about future training and career opportunities, we would certainly advise them to look into the new opportunities being created.”
The construction works at the Dove Engineering Centre started in late February with an estimated completion date, set for May 2017.