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04/03/13: Work starts on new £2m North West training hub

Work has commenced on a new multi-million pound state-of-the-art training academy in Lancashire. Steve Johnson, chief executive at Electricity North West and Hyndburn MP, Graham Jones

The new complex, based in Whitebirk, East Lancashire, will create local job opportunities and train the next generation of engineers to help maintain the North West’s electricity supply.

Electricity North West, which owns and maintains the region’s electricity network, aims to train members of staff and also cater for people looking to begin developing a career in the electricity industry.

Steve Johnson, chief executive at Electricity North West, said: “I am delighted that work has started on our new training facility.

“This is a fantastic development and it will allow us to grow our already successful apprenticeship scheme, with space for even more apprentices, A-level entrants and graduates joining our programmes. This growth is vital to ensure the North West’s network and our people are fully equipped to meet the challenges of the future.”

Plans for the new training facility, which alongside the apprenticeship scheme will also create 150 new roles over the next few years, were approved by Blackburn and Darwen Borough Council and Hyndburn Council in October last year.

Hyndburn MP, Graham Jones, said: “This is fantastic news for East Lancashire and I’m extremely impressed with the training available.

“I’m delighted that Electricity North West will help provide great employment opportunities for local residents and I believe the academy will make a real difference in tough times.”

Electricity North West funds specific electrical qualifications as well as vocational on-the-job training. Alongside school-leavers, the power operator also offers accredited IET training programmes which cater for both A-level students and graduates who are also looking for a career in the energy industry.

The new academy, which will utilise current vacant land at the depot, will incorporate five workshops, classrooms, office space as well as associated amenity spaces, including outdoor training facilities.

The design of the building will complement Electricity North West’s strategy for a sustainable future by minimising energy demands of the building, and as a result maintaining a low carbon footprint.

The academy is due to be completed by September 2013.

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