A £4.3million gateway to the future at Bedford College

Mark Farmer Government Champion of modern methods of construction opened the new centre at Bedford College today

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 3:18 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 3:20 pm

A new £4.3m net carbon building at Bedford College aims to provide a gateway to the future, with access to skilled jobs from apprentices to degree-level roles.

The Connolly Centre of Modern Construction (CMC) at Bedford College was officially opened today (October 20)

It has been made possible by funding via regional agency SEMLEP of £2.9 Million.

Mark Farmer Government Champion of modern methods of construction opening the new centre at Bedford College today (Wednesday)

The £4.3m includes £750,000 donated by the Connolly Foundation towards the very latest construction equipment inside the building. The Wixamtree Trust also donated £10,000.

Declared open by Mark Farmer, the Government’s champion of Modern Methods of Construction, today, the CMC contains some highly specialised equipment on which up to 100 people will train for jobs, or upgrade their existing skills to match up to emerging ‘modern methods of construction’.

Ian Pryce CBE, CEO of The Bedford College Group (TBCG): “ We are closing that gap which we see between what happens in industries, and what is taught in college.”

Mark Farmer congratulated Ian and TBCG team for their vision in building the dream. He said: “This facility will be helping to re-shape how we deliver construction in the future.

"It meets the Government agenda for skills and sustainability and I can see it being an exemplar for the rest of the country.

“Leadership has made this possible with Ian and The Bedford College Group being well placed to support the demand for skills in London and the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.”

State of the Art equipment

The CMC includes a computer-aided design suite linked to the Virtual Reality “cave”, funded previously by the Connolly Foundation, and housed on campus in the Advanced Engineering Buchanan Centre.

There will be Howick Frama 5600 metal profiling machine to produce metal components ready for self-assembly and an industry standard gantry crane to lift components of up to 3.2 tonnes.

Net Zero Carbon

It is expected the building will receive an official A+ on its energy performance certificate making this The Group’s first Net Zero Carbon building.

Exhibition of Employers

Following the official opening which included a tour of the building, an exhibition of employers who will support and benefit from the skilled workforce created at the CMC was held:

> Modular Building Automation

> Sika

> Passive Purple

> Beattie Passive

> L&Q

> Stewart Milne

> Sika

> E3Recruitment

> Excel Structures

> Intelligent Membranes

> Timber Development UK

> Trussed Rafter Association.

Adam Boag, 17, is studying a 'Level 3 Technical and Professional Construction Extended Diploma' at Bedford College.

He took up the chance to shadow contractors ASHE to see how the old Cauldwell Street building was transformed into the CMC. He spoke at the official opening today (Wednesday) about the value gained from his training at college and its links with industry.

He said: “Having just entered my second and final year, I am hoping to become a site manager in the construction industry and when ASHE approached the college about the opportunity for students to shadow the site managers, Danny Roberts and Neil Dimond, I was eager to take up the opportunity.

“I've always been interested in construction as I grew up in a family which was heavily involved in the industry with my Grandad having his own construction and civil engineering company based in Arlesey, and my Dad working for him for 20 years as a contracts manager.

"At high school, I took construction as an option for my GCSE's, and in this I covered the basics for various trades (Bricklaying, Carpentry, Electrics, Plastering and Plumbing) as well as looking at basic health and safety in construction.

“On my first day with ASHE Ian Berrie (Health, Safety & Environmental Manager) gave me a site health and safety induction.

"This outlined various procedures that must be followed to maintain standards on a construction site, and also at the time, Covid precautions that were present on site.

"This, as well as many other details about H&S on a construction site were all fresh in my mind as we had recently concluded the health and safety module on my college course.

“At the end of each week I spent a day away from the site at Bedford College, on the first I spent all day at ASHE's head office in Hitchin, with the planning team, quantity surveyors and document control, as well as Andrew Morris, the commercial director of ASHE.

“This exposure to the other roles involved in a project dispelled some misconceptions I had. For example, I thought quantity surveyors spent all their time in an office counting numbers, whereas after speaking at length with Sam Figgins (Quantity Surveyor), I found out that they also spend time on site, liaising with clients and the site manager(s).

"During my time at ASHE I was shown how problems have to be resolved and how the priorities of a site manager change in an instant, something that has to be witnessed to be truly appreciated, something that can't be taught in a classroom.”