An EV lab is set to be constructed at a North-East college to train the next generation of technology workers, who could fill a skills gap for national and local companies.
The £2.75m winning bid from Darlington College, from the government’s Town Fund initiative, follows a £600,000 grant to develop a business hub for professional qualifications and a technology training centre.
Planning permission has already been secured, contractors are expected to be appointed before Christmas and work is due to start in the New Year. The two-storey steel and glass facility is expected to be available to students from July.
The project will see the construction of three new engineering environments – an electric and hybrid vehicle workshop, as well as a robotics and automation manufacturing lab and a technical support workshop.
The development is aimed at filling a skills gap caused by an ageing engineering population and the growth of EVs. It will also work to deliver a new T-Level qualification in light vehicle and electric vehicle maintenance.
“With these new facilities we will be able to support and introduce new technology into local businesses,” said Alan Jones, curriculum manager for engineering, design, automotive and the arts at Darlington College.
The college manufacturing and processing labs would introduce students and companies to the technical side of maintenance. Workshops would also allow students to develop their fault finding and diagnostics skills, with training tailored to the needs of industry.
With the expected growth in full electric and hybrid vehicles over the next ten years, the college development would also provide training rigs to work on the next generation of clean cars.
“Our new facilities will fit in perfectly with the emerging world green agenda, we are thrilled to be at the heart of this and grateful for the support we are receiving from local and national government,” added Jones.
“This will allow us to ensure our students are ready for the rapidly changing needs of industry at a time when engineering technical support is becoming a huge growth area that is appealing to men and women alike. This type of engineering engages well with younger students so this is an incredible opportunity for our local schools too.
“While our engineers will still need basic workshops skills, by investing in such a hi-tech facility, we are future-proofing the workforce for many years to come.”
Darlington College offers HNCs, HNDs and apprenticeships on full- and part-time programmes. Over the past four years it has piloted the placement element of the new T-Levels. The college is due to deliver T-Levels in engineering from September 2022.