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Funding helps build Kent’s construction skills

Construction skills are to get an important boost following news that East Kent College has secured £1.36 million from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) to extend its training facilities at its Folkestone Campus.

The investment will see the campus’ existing construction training facilities extended, providing high quality accommodation to train a new generation of construction professionals.

The new extension, giving an extra 1,089m² of training space will provide a base for teaching bricklaying, plastering and maintenance operations to students when it is fully operational in January 2017.

Planning permission is already in place at the site from Shepway District Council, and with the funding agreed by SELEP’s Accountability Board, which met on Friday April 8, construction is planned to begin in June.

The £1.48 million project is a joint investment by SELEP and East Kent College, a member of Kent Further Education.

East Kent College Principal Graham Razey said that the building would help to combat skills shortages in the construction industry, providing valuable training facilities for students.

Mr Razey said: “There is a real skills deficit in the construction sector locally and regionally, and that is something which this new capital development will help to combat.

“The Construction Skills Network South East estimates that 970 more bricklayers alone will be required across the region by 2019. This new development will help ensure that we can meet that need while also providing opportunities for young people to secure sustainable careers locally.”

The news was welcomed by Geoff Miles, Kent Chair of SELEP and Chair of the Kent & Medway Economic Partnership, the organisation which leads on SELEP-related activities locally.

He said: “Improving the skills available to the construction sector will have an important impact on the economy of Folkestone and further afield.

“This funding shows how SELEP is listening to business and working closely with high quality training providers such as East Kent College to secure jobs for our young people and a stronger economy for the area.”

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