A new £10.5 million skills centre at Alconbury Weald marked a key milestone when it was officially topped out by Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly.
Leaders from business, local government and funding organisations joined the MP to celebrate the landmark event for iMET, an Innovation, Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology centre which will provide essential skills training for the region.
Due to open next year, it will deliver technical, advanced and higher vocational training to key growth sectors - Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering, Construction, IT and Digital and Life Sciences - and will be led by Cambridge Regional College and Peterborough Regional College in a joint partnership.
Jonathan Djanogly, who has been a champion of the project since its inception four years ago, said it was a very exciting moment for the region. He said:
“Productivity is becoming the catchword in Westminster. A key part of that productivity is skills, and in this part of the country making the most out of the wonderful resources we have here is key. Training is a vital part of that, together with an increase in apprenticeships. There has been a huge increase in apprenticeships in this area. This facility will enable local businesses to take that to a much higher level. We can train people locally and throughout Cambridge in a way we have not been able to in the past.”
Mr Djanogly said there had been great support for iMET from Huntingdonshire District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Urban&Civic and the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership, with a lot of people working closely together to help make it happen. Land for the innovative training centre was donated by the owners and developers of Alconbury Weald, Urban&Civic, and the £10.5 million funding for the project came from the Government via the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership.
Mark Robertson, Principal and CEO of Cambridge Regional College – one of the top performing further education colleges in the country - said the topping out was a major landmark for iMET.
“This is a very exciting development for skills in the region and we are already working with employers to ensure that iMET provides the high-level training they need for business success. iMET is key to encouraging employers to invest in Alconbury Weald. It is good for Alconbury, and what is good for Alconbury is good for the region.
“Cambridgeshire is the fastest growing economic region outside London, but skills shortages are reported as a major barrier to sustaining that growth. iMET will play a key role in ensuring the provision of those world-class skills, and we are very proud to be part of the essential partnership that is making that happen.”
Terry Jones, Principal and CEO of PRC said: “Peterborough Regional College is proud to be working in partnership in Cambridge Regional College, and to enjoy the full support of the Local Enterprise Partnership, to make this exciting collaboration a reality for the benefit of learners and employers.”
Paul Sayles, Executive Director Finance and Operations for the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP, said: “We are very proud to see this exceptional training facility reach such an exciting milestone. Having provided £10.5m to fund the work, it’s fantastic to see it finally taking shape and to hear so many inspired statements from local colleges and businesses on how it will not only support vital technical skills education, but also become an enabler for future economic growth.”
Growth at Alconbury Weald is a strategic policy priority for central government and for regional stakeholders.