�6m Great Yarmouth construction centre opens

Stephen PullingerStudents at Great Yarmouth College were this week delighted to swap draughty old industrial premises for a �6m construction centre.Stephen Pullinger

Students at Great Yarmouth College were this week delighted to swap draughty old industrial premises for a �6m construction centre.

The start-of-term move 250 yards along Suffolk Road has given students in bricklaying, carpentry, painting and decorating, electrical installation and plumbing the most up-to-date facilities possible, according to Daniel O'Callaghan, head of the school of construction and manufacturing technologies.

"Students still seem a little in awe of the new building but they appreciate this tremendous investment in them. By providing facilities like this, we want to get away from the idea that further education colleges are a consolation prize to sixth form colleges," he


The provision of the centre, which incorporates such green technologies as solar panels to pre-heat water for central heating and rainwater harvesting to flush toilets and clean workshop sinks, was a response to the significant increase in students opting to learn trades at the college.

"We now have more than 550 students in construction, a third more than we had when we moved into the old building in 2002," he said.

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"The boom in the construction industry in recent years attracted new students. Although we are now in a recession new students can take heart from the fact that there is invariably a skills shortage when you come out of recession because of older people retiring."

Mr O'Callaghan, who quit a lucrative career as a City currency trader to become a college tutor, said there were plenty of examples of construction students switching careers in mid-life.

He said: "We don't just cater for 16 to 19-year-olds. Our oldest student is in his mid-50s."

The centre provides state-of-the-art workshops which even allow bricklaying students to learn their skills indoors in the warm.

There are also modern classrooms fitted with interactive white boards, an IT suite, locker rooms attached to every workshop, a staff room and

a canteen with seating for 90


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