When the Forest of Dean’s AccXel construction school opened in January 2022, its first 80 apprentices were already promised work, a dynamic board was in place and it was backed by businesses with a combined turnover of £2 billion – and now AccXel has revealed plans to open a second construction skills centre.
The ambitious initial project, joint-funded by Cinderford headquartered KW Bell and Government money won by local enterprise partnership GFirst LEP, has been led by AccXel’s managing director, Nicola Bird, and directors Natalie Bell, Katie Hathaway, Andy Moule and Pete and Yvonne Bell.
Progress has been swift and the school is already helping to train staff for 34 partners businesses in a 60 mile radius, including Gloucestershire-based Barnwood Construction, Clarkson Evans, Keyway and EG Carter as well as JCB, Leica Geosystems and Boels.
And confidence is such that ahead of yesterday’s (Thursday 16 June) visit to its Cinderford headquarters by the secretary of state in the department for business, energy and industrial strategy, Lee Rowley, and Forest of Dean MP Mark Harper, AccXel told SoGlos it had ‘very ambitious growth plans’ which included another school of construction.
AccXel said it was ‘laying the groundwork for a second AccXel in the South West region’.
It is understood the new training centre will be ‘a hub for new construction apprenticeships – not plant operations, bricklaying or groundworks as we already offer these at Cinderford’.
AccXel already expects to have ‘roughly 2,000 learners over the next year through apprenticeships, Skills Steps and short courses’.
Five apprenticeship programmes are due to start at the Forest of Dean’s AccXel centre during the September 2022 to January 2023 period, with the 80 apprentices already lined up expected to be offered work by its partners on completion of their courses.
Partner businesses are also using the centre’s Skills Steps Programmes to upskill staff, with three cohorts of 15 learners currently in training. AccXel has also run three-week Skills Steps 1 courses with the Department of Work and Pensions to help jobseekers find employment in the construction sector.
By Andrew Merrell