Building work has started on Wigan & Leigh College’s Centre of Excellence in Engineering & Construction based at the Pagefield campus.

The expansion to its facilities comes after receiving approval from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) for a substantial grant.

The College received £603,000 from GMCA’s Skills Capital fund which is being used to support a total project cost of £1.8million.

Resources are being improved upon to ensure the technologies of robotics, artificial intelligences, mechatronics, algorithm engineering and other digital technologies are fully embraced.

The project, designed by Seven Architecture, will allow students to benefit from a new additive manufacturing laboratory as well as an extension to its current Social Learning Hub, creating more space for the increased number of learners.

College Principal, Anna Dawe said: “The investment will see the expansion of facilities in response to significant growth in student numbers and will provide specialist accommodation for our degree apprentices and higher education students.”

The project will also include the creation of a new plumbing workshop, a thermo / fluid laboratory, materials / process laboratory as well as the expansion to the brickwork facilities.

These additions will replicate modern real working environments that cater to the needs of students and employers. The curriculum, delivered at Pagefield and its resources, tailors to all of the engineering specialisms and contributes to fully prepare students to be ‘work ready’.

The College’s ambition to continually improve and grow its industry standard facilities reflects the GM Work and Skills Strategy by focusing on value added and high employment.

The North West is the UK’s largest manufacturing and advanced engineering cluster and has the highest number of employees employed in manufacturing of any UK region whilst the construction sector employs around 54,000 people in Greater Manchester with a gross value added of £3bn.

The demand for jobs is ever growing and an additional 19,000 jobs are predicted by 2035.

Anna Dawe added: “The bid was supported by national and local employers and this will reinforce their commitment to supporting the College and providing career opportunities for Wigan residents in these priority sectors.”