BURNLEY’S iconic Weavers’ Triangle is to host a “visionary” £8m. centre of excellence to inspire and train the next generation of skilled workers.
Last week the Express revealed the Victoria Mill site, off Trafalgar Street, was one being looked at by Training 2000 for the University Technical College and, on Wednesday, community leaders were given the news they had hoped for.
The state-of-the-art 800-place Burnley Visions Trust University Technical College, the first to be built in Lancashire under a pioneering government scheme, will be situated at the heart of the Weavers’ Triangle, currently being transformed as part of a wider multi-million pound regeneration programme. It will train young people aged 14 to 19 in construction and engineering alongside traditional subjects like English and maths.
The announcement has been billed as “fantastic news” for the town and key to kick-starting the regeneration of Burnley’s historic mills. Mr Steve Rumbelow, chief executive of Burnley Council, said: “The UTC proposal will give us the opportunity to make sure we are giving employers in the area, mainly advanced manufacturers, what they have been telling us they need – a supply of young people with the right skills.”
Victoria Mill was one of three sites considered, along with Kings Mill, Briercliffe, and Brierfield Mills, Pendle.
Prince Charles will visit the mill on Tuesday when he makes his fourth visit to Burnley in six years.
Coun. Charlie Briggs, leader of Burnley Council, said: “We are delighted Victoria Mill, at the heart of Burnley’s historic Weavers’ Triangle, has been chosen as the site for the first University Technical College in the North-West.
“Burnley Council stepped up to the plate and put together an exceptional presentation to the Training 2000 board on the merits of having the UTC based here in Burnley. We are absolutely delighted Burnley will have this important educational facility, which will offer training in highly skilled and technical roles which will lead to high quality jobs right here in the town.
“Our vision to make Burnley a centre of educational excellence and a regionally significant centre for manufacturing and digital industries is fast becoming a reality.
“Burnley can now boast three universities and one of the best higher education colleges in the country, Burnley College, which will also add value to manufacturing skills.”
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle added: “It’s all down to hard work. The thing at the moment is there’s lots of jobs but unfortunately we don’t have the people to do them. Over the last 15 years, no one has been teaching many skills. We need to get people skilled-up to do the jobs of the future, rather than going to university.”
Mr Steve Gray, chief executive of Training 2000, said the college would offer a “unique educational experience” to inspire young people to become engineers.
The scheme, along with 12 other UTCs announced nationally by the Government, is being backed by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust and work will be carried out by Barnfield Construction.
Jane Ware, from the Baker Dearing Educational Trust, said the JCB Academy UTC in Staffordshire, which opened two years ago, had already proved to be a massive success.
The final decision on the location is subject to funding approval from the Department for Education which is expected in the coming weeks. The college is expected to open in September next year.