A new Electric Vehicle and Green Technologies Training Centre at City of Wolverhampton College was officially opened today (May 13) by Jane Stevenson, MP for Wolverhampton North East, and Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, who made a spectacular entrance to the event in a classic DeLorean car, as seen in the film Back to the Future.
The centre – at the Planetary Industrial Estate in Wednesfield – has been developed by the college to cope with increased demand for places on its electric vehicle training courses and boasts a range of vehicles and the latest industry-standard equipment to give local people the specialist skills needed to work in the fast-emerging sector.
Latest data shows that only one in 20 mechanics in garages and dealerships are currently qualified to maintain and repair electric vehicles and West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is funding training at the centre to address this skills gap and help the region achieve its zero-carbon target by 2041.
The centre, developed in partnership with Duplex Business Services, provides training courses from beginner to advanced level, as well as free training for people who are registered as unemployed through a sector-based work academy programme (SWAP) which includes sector-specific pre-employment training work experience and a guaranteed job interview with an industry employer.
The Mayor of Wolverhampton, Cllr Greg Brackenridge, was joined by Jane Stevenson MP, Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, Councillor Ian Brookfield, Leader of City of Wolverhampton Council and Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton South East, along with around 100 guests from partner organisations and the local automotive industry.
Ms Stevenson said: “It was a huge honour to open the new Electric Vehicle and Green Technologies Centre this morning and to chat to some of the students about their studies and their hopes for the future. City of Wolverhampton College is playing a key role in giving Wulfrunians the skills they need to get into exciting careers in emerging industries like electric vehicle maintenance. To have the first facility of its kind in my constituency is fantastic.
I was lucky enough to meet some of the first students to use the site back in January. It's wonderful to hear that lots of the students I met have already found jobs in this growing sector. Technologies are changing so quickly, which means educators need to keep pace. I want to congratulate the College for being so quick off the mark and for leading the way with a number of pioneering courses. This is brilliant news for students and for our city's future economy. The opening of this site really is a great day for Wolverhampton.”
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and Chair of the WMCA, said “Today we went ‘back to the future’ and saw a modified DeLorean in action at the brand new state of the art Electric Vehicle Centre at the City of Wolverhampton College. This fantastic new facility will help bring the Green Industrial Revolution to life - establishing a UK centre of excellence for the automotive industry as it adapts to meet modern needs and at the same time creating high-tech 21st century jobs in close collaboration with employers from across the region. This is great news for the young people of Wolverhampton and a wonderful new opportunity on their doorstep.”
Malcolm Cowgill, principal of the college, said: “As a leading education provider in the region we are proud to be at the forefront of electric vehicle training and are extremely grateful to WMCA and our industry partners for their support in developing the centre which will boost the employment prospects of hundreds of local people by giving them the skills they need to work in this exciting new sector.
“And, in light of the recent announcement of the launch of a new all-electric DeLorean, we were delighted to have the classic DeLorean at the launch for the Mayor and our other guests to enjoy!”
City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield, said: “We are an ambitious city on the green agenda, our aim is to deliver a net carbon neutral council by 2028 – one of the most challenging targets in the region – and for the city to be net carbon neutral by 2041.
“Green technologies are our future - and we need to seize the opportunities it presents to protect our environment and create jobs and opportunities.
“The challenge now is to grow and support access to these new opportunities by ensuring we have the right skills in Wolverhampton so local people benefit.
“All of the council’s vehicle technicians have completed the college’s hybrid and electric vehicle training programme and I’m really pleased to see the City of Wolverhampton College leading the way on this and flying the flag for our city to be a national leader in green growth and sustainable construction.”
Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton South East, said: “It is fantastic to see the City of Wolverhampton College get ahead of the game by establishing this new centre for electric vehicle maintenance.
“Unemployment and youth unemployment are much higher than the English average in Wolverhampton and the only way to change that is to equip people for the jobs of tomorrow.
“Electric vehicle sales are growing fast and the maintenance sector will grow in line with that. That’s why this is such a welcome move from the college.”
The college is leading the way across the region by developing training courses to meet the needs of businesses by developing the skills of the local workforce and, in the last two years, has also opened a construction groundworks and plant training site and a rail training centre at the Wellington Road campus in Bilston.
For details of training in electric vehicles, construction plant operations and laying and maintenance of rail track go to www.wolvcoll.ac.uk/swaps/