SGS College bids for £5million to make Berkeley Laboratories an education hub

Gazette Series: The old Berkeley Labs (3804691) The old Berkeley Labs (3804691)

A COLLEGE has made a bid for several million pounds in order to create an education centre for manufacturing and engineering at Berkeley Power Station’s old laboratory for 400 apprentices. South Gloucestershire and Stroud College (SGS) is hoping it can take over the lease for several buildings at the station to rapidly increase its intake of trainees.

Through the G First Local Enterprise Partnership, the college is asking for £5million, part of which will be used to refurbish existing engineering buildings to provide training and business start-up facilities. Along with the creation of a conference centre and exhibition space that will be an exemplar of low carbon building methods, energy generation and energy efficiency.

Director of business development at SGS, Tom Beasley, said the plans were still in very early stages at the moment,and the earliest they would hear back from the Government was sometime in mid Summer.

“We have been looking for an opportunity to grow the college provision for the last couple of years,” he said.

“We have bid for funds which may allow us to develop the Berkeley centre as a centre for engineering, low carbon and nuclear training. There’s a skills shortage in these areas in Gloucestershire and the south west as a whole. “This has got a lot of good will behind it. Everyone is very supportive.”

Currently, science, technology engineering and manufacturing (STEM) training is done at SGS’s Stroud campus but has limited space to expand. The idea is that, as well as training students entering college, it would also help train those that would eventually take jobs at the nuclear power stations being built in Oldbury and Hinkley in Somerset.

Mr Beasley said the move would excite the next generation.

“It couldn’t be a better site to inspire young people. If teaching nuclear subjects, where better than at an old nuclear building?” he said.

Gloucestershire County Council representative for Berkeley, Cllr Brian Tipper, said at the meeting of the Berkeley Site Stakeholder Group where the plans were shown that it was great news and hoped it would help remove the “stigma” applied to the old nuclear building.

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