Contractors have started works on the new £3.6m Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMT) Centre based at Furness College, Barrow.
The project, overseen by Lancaster-based Harrison Pitt Architects, aims to boost engineering and advanced manufacturing expertise throughout the county by enabling the college to train up to 1,150 apprentices at any one time.
The 14,000 sq ft centre will host engineering and advanced manufacturing research facilities for rapid prototyping and high voltage test laboratories.
Officials claim the new AMT will provide a realistic scenario to create a learning environment for those completing science, technology and engineering-related apprenticeships at some of the area’s biggest employers, including BAE Systems; Siemens; GlaxoSmithKline; Kimberly Clark, and Centrica.
Zoe Hooton, an architect at Harrison Pitt Architects, commented: “The design of the centre mimics the facilities used by leading international manufacturers with sites in Cumbria, so it will provide students with the specialist transferable skillset needed to succeed in the sector.”
To help deliver the project, Furness College has received a £1.2m Local Growth Fund grant through the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.
John Smith, deputy principal and finance director at Furness College, added: “We are delighted the project is now underway and progressing as planned. The building will start to become a reality towards the end of October with the completion of the steel framework.”
The scheme is being built, on behalf of Harrison Pitt Architects, by Maryport-based Thomas Armstrong Construction Ltd, which specialises in the construction of building and civil engineering projects.
George Smith, contracts manager at Thomas Armstrong, said: “The expansion plans of some of the area’s top manufacturers, including Siemens in Ulverston and the new biopharma plant at GlaxoSmithKline, means that demand for skilled workers is going to surge even more.”
John Woodcock, MP for Barrow in Furness, said: “Furness is standing at the threshold of enormously exciting times and the industrial expansion is going to require our young people to be equipped with the very best engineering and technological training.
“Once completed the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre at Furness College will be able to deliver those cutting-edge disciplines and I am hugely impressed by the work that has begun on this project,” Woodcock added.
The project is due to be completed in May 2016 for the new college term starting in September.