Building work has started on a pioneering new learning centre at Fleetwood Nautical Campus.
The Marine Engineering Centre, due to open in September 2016, will provide a first-class and highly realistic working environment for cadets training as officers at sea.
Advanced facilities mirroring life on board ship mean students will be job-ready and highly skilled to meet the needs of the maritime industry.
The £1.2m project will also allow training to be delivered on a single campus for the first time. Huge growth in the number of students from all over the world choosing to study marine engineering at Fleetwood has meant the College having to lease teaching accommodation elsewhere in the town in recent years. And even this is now becoming unsustainable to meet demand.
In addition, the new building will complement the existing range of cutting edge facilities at Fleetwood, including a five-bridge ship simulator and a survival training tank.
Neil Atkinson, Head of Fleetwood Nautical Campus, said: “With 95% of the UK’s imports and exports now transported by sea and the maritime industry worth up to £14bn a year to the economy, the country is crying out for suitability qualified marine engineers.
“By investing in a centre like this, Blackpool and The Fylde College is showing a real commitment to meeting this need and establishing itself as the training provider of choice for the maritime sector.
“Our plans have been received favourably by the shipping companies who have viewed them, which can only strengthen our position and encourage more investment into Lancashire.”
The Marine Engineering Centre has been part funded by a Growth Deal grant via the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership. Pinington Construction has been appointed as contractor.
Dr Michele Lawty-Jones, Director of the Lancashire Skills Hub, said: “We are pleased to fund the Marine Engineering Centre, which is part of a world-class maritime training facility attracting trainees from across the UK and beyond.
“By investing in what will be a new first-class training facility, the LEP is helping ensure that Fleetwood and Lancashire will continue to stay at the forefront of the UK and global maritime industry for years to come.”