£4m Leighton centre is key to addressing skills shortage

Image of the proposed new skills centre in Chartmoor Road
Image of the proposed new skills centre in Chartmoor Road

The £4m Leighton Linslade Engineering and Construction Skills Centre will house about 220 students and 56 academic staff.

The figures have been revealed in the planning application to develop the Chartmoor Road site which has been submitted to Central Beds Council.

The new facility will be part of Central Beds College and will have a reception area, teaching and demonstration space, teaching rooms, electronics/computer workshops, a large machine workshop and welding facilities.

The centre had been a joint venture between the college and Vinci Technology Centre, tipped to be built on Vinci Technology’s land at Stanbridge Road.

But after Vinci pulled out, Central Beds College was forced to quickly find the alternative Chartmoor Road site.

The application says the centre will have “strong and positive benefits for the local economy”.

It adds: “It is important that it is located in a working or employment area in order to try and help facilitate ties and relationships with existing businesses and employers in the area.

“The key to the project is to provide and meet the skill shortages gap in the engineering and constructions industries in the south of Central Bedfordshire. This will be achieved by training and educating young people and adults to gain relevant skills.

“The availability of such skills and personnel will also encourage investment which will expand both the local market as well as the export market.”

South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) is putting £2.5m towards the cost of the centre.

The application adds: “In 2012 there was a 2% increase in jobs in the area which was favourable compared to neighbouring counties.

“The area continues to see a fall in unemployment and whilst this is a positive trend it does not mask the issues linked to the skills shortage and insufficient employees for local employers who are at the forefront of technology. It is for these reasons that SEMLEP have decided to fund the project.”

MP Andrew Selous has previously stated: “It’s a massively important facility for local businesses and our skills training needs. Leighton Buzzard in particular has been very under-resourced in terms of skills training opportunities in construction and engineering.”

The college has told the LBO the targeted opening date was May or June 2017, with students starting a full programme in September 2017.”