A NEW education facility in Barnsley which will attempt to fill a skills gap has been backed by county bosses who have agreed to fund the majority of its creation.

Barnsley College’s welding and rail academy which is set to be located in Grimethorpe received a £500,000 grant from the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) in order for it to provide entry-level courses to youngsters before they move onto apprenticeships with employers.

According to leaders behind the scheme, the closest venue offering a similar pathway into the industry is Betterweld, based in Derby, so it has been deemed appropriate to provide a local facility.

A report, from the SYMCA, said: “The project will create an industry-designed and supported training facility that will specialise in welding and fabrication qualifications for the manufacturing sector and potentially the rail sector to address recognised skills and labour shortages for welding and fabrication professionals.

“A total of £500,000 of funding is required to fund the delivery of level one and level two EAL qualifications in welding and fabrication, along with employability skills and maths and English where needed.

“Also, £150,000 is being provided by the private sector to renovate an existing building at Billington Holdings PLC in Shafton and to provide equipment for the training facility.

“Betterweld will deliver the training from the new facility in Barnsley with training expected to start in July 2023.”

The facility is set to house between 120 and 150 students in its first year and three-quarters are expected to move into employment with manufacturing companies including Billington, directly from the academy.

“It is expected that the students will then move onto apprenticeship programmes at level two or three with their employers,” the report added.

“Employers are more likely to employ apprentices who already have base-level qualifications and experience in welding and fabrication.

“This will result in an industry and employer-led delivery which is likely to result in better employment outcomes for the students, and they will not be required to travel to Derby to access the training.

“There is a clear rationale ffor this as it will result in industry and employer-led delivery which is likely to result in better employment outcomes for the students.

“Barnsley College is the lead applicant, but Betterweld will deliver the training and report into the college.

“Data collection will provide the information on learners for monitoring purposes with reports issued to SYMCA on a quarterly basis.

“The training facility will be located in a deprived area of Barnsley district on the Grimethorpe bypass which can be accessed by several regular bus services running between Barnsley town centre and residential areas across the district.

“Based on the applicant’s lower estimate of 120 learners, the cost per learner from the preferred option is £5,417.

“The cost per learner, if training can commence as early as July, would decrease to £4,333.

“The project is therefore represents good value for money.”