Transformation at Oldham College continues apace

Alun Francis Principle of Oldham College

OLDHAM College is expanding and regenerating its Rochdale Road campus at an unprecedented pace in 2021.

THE specialist work-related technical and professional training provider has now incorporated the former GM UTC building, fronting Middleton Road, into its assets just as the college puts the finishing touches to a new £9m Construction Centre where students will learn the building and trade skills of the future.

These two projects are the latest phase in transforming a campus which has seen almost £45m of investment since 2012, replacing and upgrading facilities for learners and staff.

Students returning to restart face-to-face in March will be the first to benefit from the latest addition to the estate.

The former GM UTC building is a fantastic £9m venue that has spent much time vacant or under-used since it was opened in 2014.

Oldham College won a competition to acquire the lease on the building – adjacent to the campus – after it was mothballed following closure by the original occupants in 2017.

Last November the four-storey facility was handed over by Oasis Academy Leesbrook, which briefly used the modern premises as a temporary home.

Oldham College’s Facilities Management team quickly set to work on a £100,000 overhaul, converting the building interior and upgrading the infrastructure to the high-quality campus standard.

Oldham College Principal and Chief Executive Alun Francis told Business Edge: “These are exciting times as we complete the next major phase in transforming our campus estate.

“The former UTC is a brilliant facility and we are delighted to be returning it to the use for which it was originally intended – delivering work-related technical education and training for local learners in a first-class environment.

“We have had to be extraordinarily patient to get our hands on this building and things should be different in future. The national strategy for skills is now ‘further education, further education’ with colleges delivering a whole series of initiatives to revive technical education for young people and adults. That means colleges like ours will be the first priority of policy and not an afterthought.

“The works we have just completed mean the facility now feels very much a part of Oldham College – and we also have exciting plans for the facility for the start of the next academic year.

“By September this will be a centre of excellence, providing real-life work environments, featuring new, high-specification simulation suites mirroring a nursery and a clinical hospital ward.

“This will be a superb location for students to make progress in a future trade or career.”

A landmark learning space

The college’s new Construction Centre building is likely to be handed over by Willmott Dixon, the project construction partner, in late-March, several weeks ahead of schedule.

This landmark development is a new-build two-storey facility providing an extra 2,296 sq m of specialist teaching and learning space.

This will allow curriculum expansion and the delivery of higher skills linked closely to employer demand. Students will learn technical trades and higher professional skills through to degree level – including the new T-Level qualifications.

The Construction Centre will offer first-class provision for practical plumbing and electrical work, plus flexible build spaces, testing areas, mobile workbenches, breakout and showcase areas, alongside associated classrooms, offices and storage space.

Mr Francis concluded: “The Construction Centre is absolutely crucial to our strategic plans.

“Our facilities will be on a par with the very best across Greater Manchester – and Oldham College will be the best place to get into a trade across several disciplines, including architecture, surveying, electrical, plumbing and plastering.

“We can’t wait to show this facility to learners and local businesses later this year – and we are not resting on our laurels, either. We are currently submitting bids for further expansion and facilities across our campus to ensure that everyone can gain the skills they need to progress at any stage of their lives in Oldham.”

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