Joy as dreams are realised with opening of 'world-class' £11.4m skills centre
PUBLISHED: 23:13 12 November 2019 | UPDATED: 09:58 13 November 2019
Dreams have become reality with the opening of a world-class facility.
A new £11.4m energy skills centre has been officially opened in Lowestoft - putting the town at the forefront of the UK's growing energy and engineering industries.
The state-of-the-art energy skills centre is now home to the innovative East Coast Energy Training Academy, which will cater for around 1,000 students in the year ahead.
The new energy and engineering skills centre of excellence, which is based at the Lowestoft campus of East Coast College, has been established through a project supported by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership's local growth fund and the college,
The building has been hailed as a regional centre of excellence with national and international specialisms.
The academy has been designed with the support of local companies, as it is based around the needs of the engineering, maritime, energy and offshore sectors.
Ensuring that "the next generation" of employees will be highly skilled to meet the demands of industry, the academy is responding to the large scale investments planned in wind and nuclear energy "on our doorstep," according to Stuart Rimmer, chief executive of East Coast College.
With the energy sector seen as a key priority for the region's growth, the new centre will play a significant part in providing appropriately trained and qualified employees for the future,
Cutting the ribbon to officially open the new facility, in front of a large turnout, were Mr Rimmer, Chris Starkie, chief executive of New Anglia LEP, and former East Coast College student Jasmine Allen, 19, from Beccles, who is now beginning her career with SSE as an apprentice wind turbine technician.
Mr Rimmer said: "This is a world class facility.
"The centre itself has been a decade in planning to get to where we are today.
"East Coast College transforms thousands of lives every year in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.
"With this centre of national excellence, we really are passing on the baton to the next generation and this is just the beginning of a really exciting future."
Mr Starkie said: "This is is a really important day.
"It's so important we have a fantastic centre like this that will develop the skills locally to be recognised as a beacon for talent in the energy and engineering sectors."
Students and commercial customers will have access to a range of world-class facilities, including industry standard pneumatics and hydraulics training rigs, Kongsberg Maritime simulation equipment and an OPITO-approved Emergency Management Centre.
With guests taken on a tour of the new facilities, two Pakefield High School students completed a virtual weld in one of the workshop classrooms as the East Coast College lecturer said: "It's the way forward."