A recent survey by RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) revealed that a shortage of labour is a significant obstacle to the potential growth of the Welsh construction industry. Looking to provide a practical solution to regional and national skills shortages, the development of AccXel, the new Construction Skills Accelerator Centre, is now underway.
AccXel is a pioneering state-of-the-art 980m2 centre of excellence to inspire, train and connect people entering and advancing within the construction industry. The centre will bring the industry into the classroom, complete with real and virtual learning environments including a mock ‘live’ construction site, high-tech digital machinery and simulators for safety training.
It’s the vision of family construction firm K W Bell Group which is co-funding the project, explains Nicola Bird, Managing Director of AccXel and Director at K W Bell Group;
“The new centre in Cinderford, Gloucestershire is being developed for the industry, by the industry, to accelerate the learning of job-ready men and women, equipping them with knowledge and practical experience of the latest technological advances in sustainability and digital construction. By providing an industry-led education facility, we want to be able to inspire all learners and help them to attain knowledge of technological advances that will move the industry forward.
“Our contracting division, Bell Contracting, turns over in excess of £25m in Wales per year so we know the local industry well and understand the challenges businesses are facing when it comes to finding skilled people in the region. It is critical that employers can access a suitably skilled and educated workforce to drive their business growth ambitions and the lack of such provision is recognised as a local concern.”
Starting at grassroots, AccXel aims to ignite the interest of a new generation to begin a fulfilling career in construction through a dedicated schools’ outreach programme. It will also provide education pathways into the construction industry from 16-years up, engage with learners and apprentices from NVQ Level 1 through to undergraduate degree, and introduce opportunities and support for career changers. All of which will increase the pool of skilled people required by the modern construction industry.
“We’ll be working to encourage more diversity in the industry and enhance the image of construction skills to make construction the career choice for all. Now more than ever, construction is key to helping rebuild the economy during these difficult times. I’m really proud that AccXel is now under construction and we’ll soon be playing a key part in inspiring people to get involved with the industry, providing training that will develop long-term careers and connecting a highly-skilled workforce with future-looking employers.”
AccXel aims to welcome its first learners through its doors in January 2022. K W Bell Group is working in collaboration with Gloucestershire College and the University of Gloucestershire, and with support from local employers in England and Wales and industry representatives including global giant JCB. AccXel’s development is also backed by almost £2m from the Government’s Getting Building Fund, awarded via Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, GFirst LEP.