Multi-million pound boost for West of England’s aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors is unveiled

A major investment in state-of-the-art industry facilities for the booming aerospace and advanced manufacturing sectors has been unveiled at City of Bristol College.

The development of a £4m extension to the College’s Advanced Engineering Centre, funded by the West of England Combined Authority and  Local Enterprise Partnership through the Local Growth Fund, will reinforce the West of England’s reputation for hi-tech innovation and as a leading provider of skilled labour in these high growth industries.

At a topping out ceremony the building was officially handed over by David Snell, Operations  Director at contractors, Kier Western and Wales to Lee Probert, Chief Executive and Principal of City of Bristol College. The event was also attended by applicants who will soon be attending the new look facility when it opens for business in October 2017.

Probert said: “The region is renowned globally for its aerospace and engineering innovation which acts as a magnet for inward investment. The Advanced Engineering Centre is designed to support the growth of the regional economy through providing work ready students in these key sectors. By taking students from the classroom to the workshop, it forms part of our drive to create ‘passports to jobs’ for our students.

West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “The West of England region is the largest aerospace cluster in the country and we have some 1,500 manufacturing enterprises. This expanded facility at the College will support our local strengths in these sectors by providing a future skills pool for the region.”

The extended facility will include a number of specialist labs to support skills development in the design and maintenance of aircraft and engineering systems. It will also include state-of-the-art computer aided design and 3d printing equipment to support skills development in design and prototyping. In addition, there will be a dedicated aeronautical structures lab for Airbus, one of some 150 plus employers who are users of the facility. There are currently some 250 apprentices on site and a further 60 will come through the doors of the new facility over the next three years.

Simon Young, Chief Executive of the West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF) commented: “This investment will add further strength to the South West Aerospace sector. It provides a significant boost to encouraging youngsters to enter the exciting world of advanced engineering and develop real hands-on skills that are vital for the future prosperity of themselves, their employers and their communities.”

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