A BASINGSTOKE college has officially taken on a new centre designed to train up the construction professionals of the future.

Basingstoke College of Technology (BCOT) was officially handed the operational keys to the new Future Skills Centre, based in Bordon, on Friday, 13 October where it was also opened by the minister of state for employment, Damian Hinds MP

Students will learn an array of practical construction industry skills at the centre including carpentry, plumbing and bricklaying with a cohort of 26 students enrolled which could raise to 200.

Anthony Bravo, BCOT principal, said: “We’re proud to be playing an important role in training and upskilling the next generation of site operatives and construction professionals.

"Our curriculum is specifically designed to directly target the current skills needs in the area and together with our investment of just under £200,000 on fitting out the centre and our outstanding industry and employer links, students will be exposed to the latest technologies, designs and developments in the industry.”

At the opening event, around 50 guests enjoyed a tour of the facility, speeches by dignitaries and a buffet lunch with drinks.

The Home and Communities Agency secured an award of £3.8 million to fund the project, through the Local Growth Fund Grant from the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership, and then selected Hampshire County Council (HCC) to build the new facility and identify an operator.

HCC also put £250,000 towards the building costs for the new centre.

HCC executive member for education, Councillor Peter Edgar said: “The Future Skills Centre is the latest in a series of new, world class technical training facilities we’re delivering across the county, which will transform the skills infrastructure in Hampshire. I’m proud that the Homes and Communities Agency selected the county council to deliver this ambitious project, and delighted to see the students here who are already on their way to bright new careers in the construction sector.”

The core curriculum at the centre reflects the skills needed in the area, which have been identified by the Construction Industry Training Board.

Dr Mike Short, CBE, chairman of the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership said: "The economic regeneration of Whitehill and Bordon is critical and its success is underpinned by the development of skilled individuals.

"The Future Skills Centre will play a key role in supplying the construction competencies required for the redevelopment of Whitehill and Bordon. The Centre sits alongside other significant investments made by Enterprise M3, including the BASE Bordon Innovation Centre, the Inner Relief Road and the Sustainable Transport Package, bringing our total investment in the area to £28.7m.

“We are pleased by the results of our investments in the area and remain committed to the wider redevelopment of Whitehill & Bordon.”

Although the focus is on training for the construction sector, the centre will also be a hub for technical training and will host an adult and community learning programme.