Preparatory ground works for the construction of the £4.8 million Sandwell Civil and Mechanical Engineering Centre (Sandwell MEC) on West Bromwich High Street have begun.

Contractors have been on site since November 2022, preparing the foundations, sub-structure and external works for the new campus and are set to complete this round of works by February 2023.

As a new technical campus for Sandwell College, the centre will encompass new technologies to deliver a range of academic, vocational and apprenticeship courses. These will cover areas of skills shortage including engineering, construction and advanced manufacturing, as well as addressing other areas of demand for higher and advanced level skills and qualifications.

The new facility will prepare hundreds of young people and adults for future life and work. Students will also benefit from activities that will enable them to progress into the workforce, higher skills jobs, or to continue their learning at university.

Construction of the campus building – which will be a modular build – is expected to start between March and April 2023, with completion due by September 2023. Modular construction is much quicker than conventional construction. It takes place offsite, using controlled plant conditions, before the components of the building are transported and assembled at the final location.

Creating a  900sqm facility on remediated land along West Bromwich High Street, the new Sandwell MEC is part of the £1.8bn ‘Regenerating Sandwell’ pipeline of regeneration projects being delivered across the borough’s six towns over the next five years. Funding for the project has been provided by the Towns Fund, Department for Education, and Sandwell College.

Councillor Peter Hughes, Sandwell Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Growth said: “I am delighted that preparatory works for the construction of the Sandwell MEC have begun. The new campus will grow West Bromwich’s ‘Knowledge Quarter’ and is one of ten education and skills projects aimed at increasing provision in the borough under our £1.8bn ‘Regenerating Sandwell’ pipeline. By enhancing skills infrastructure, Sandwell has an opportunity to build on recent increases in skills levels which will pave the way to a more prosperous future. This will prepare residents for future industries, and, in time, bring good quality and well-paying jobs to the borough.”

Sandwell College Principal, Graham Pennington said: “With thanks to Sandwell Council and the Town Fund, the College will launch its new specialist centre for engineering and associated technologies offering academic, technical and apprenticeship courses. This is an exciting development for the town and the borough and will bring further regeneration to the High Street of West Bromwich. We look forward to welcoming students and apprentices at the centre in September 2023.”

Chris Hinson, Chair of West Bromwich Town Deal Board, said: “I am pleased to see ground works proceeding smoothly on site to prepare for the start of construction work in the Spring. Sandwell MEC will be West Bromwich’s education hub, delivering in-demand skills to meet the needs of business – including Sandwell’s specialisms in construction, manufacturing and logistics. This exciting project is part of the Towns Fund investment to support high quality skills and training hubs related to key growth sectors and opportunities that could deliver good quality and well-paying jobs to Sandwell.”

More information on ‘Regenerating Sandwell’ can be found on the Council’s regeneration website.

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