The Department of Education and Children will seek Tynwald’s approval to create the facilities at the Isle of Man College of Further and Higher Education.
It’s hoped to create a facility for engineering and motor vehicle engineering at the old water treatment works site on Greenfield Road. The space in College vacated by the current engineering department would then provide enlarged construction crafts facilities.
Training in construction crafts and engineering currently takes place across three sites – at the College in Homefield Road and at Hill’s Meadow and Union Mills. The two satellite buildings, which are not owned by the Department, provide a low-quality learning environment. Teaching is fragmented, with travel to the remote sites necessary and students lacking the facilities that are available at the main College campus.
The improvements would allow the College to offer new courses in mechanical engineering and electronics, such as mechatronics, supporting new industry on the Island.
The Isle of Man Government’s ‘pink book’ allocates £4.9 million for the development.
The Minister explained the new facilities are at the design stage. Subject to planning approval and Tynwald’s support later this year, work will begin at the old water treatment works early next year and the engineering facilities will be up and running from September 2014. The focus will then shift to improving construction crafts facilities, which will be operational by spring/summer 2015.
The scheme underlines Government’s support of the construction and engineering sectors, the Minister said.
‘It is essential that suitable training facilities are provided to support the construction and engineering industries and bring through the next generation of engineers and those in construction trades. Suitable accommodation to enable the widening of vocational choices to complement, or offer an alternative to, more conventional academic examination routes at 14-16 and beyond is also important.’
The height and capacity of the former Water and Sewage Authority filter hall means it can accommodate the heavy equipment needed for engineering training and the re-use of this building for engineering purposes maintains the link with its past. A separate motor vehicle engineering workshop will be developed on the same site. The engineering building will be named the William Kennish Building, after the Manx inventor and marine engineer who set out early plans for the Panama Canal.
Similarly, the height of the existing engineering facility at the College means that, with the addition of mezzanine flooring, it will accommodate new painting and decorating and plumbing sections when construction crafts take it over.
The Minister also welcomed a change to training, coming into force in September that will provide a greater throughput of staff into the aerospace industry, a growth area for the Island.
The College has traditionally offered a dozen aerospace engineering apprenticeships, with students training for three years – spending two days a week in workplaces. It has worked with the aerospace industry to address its training needs and will, from September 2013, offer a 36-week course, taught over two years, with an initial 18 places. It’s hoped this will rise to 36 places in September 2014.
Minister Crookall said:
‘This exciting development forms part of the Department’s continued efforts to prepare young people for work and aid the business community with their training and employment needs. ‘Most if not all those accepted on to this newly tailored course are expected to find immediate employment within the aerospace sector – an important growth industry for the Island.’