Hopwood Hall College is building a £6.1m extension to its Technology Centre in Rochdale as it prepares to launch a range of T-Level qualifications.
T-Levels are high-quality technical alternatives to A-Levels and Hopwood Hall College is one of the first colleges in Greater Manchester to start offering them.
The extension to the Technology Centre at the Middleton Campus will allow the college to offer more T-Levels and higher technical training especially in advanced manufacturing and advanced construction.
The £6.1m project includes £1.7m from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to invest in Rochdale’s future skills and the remaining £4.4m from Hopwood Hall College.
A total of £3.8m will be spent on the building and a further £1m will be invested in state-of-the-art equipment and resources. It also includes an extensive refurbishment.
Julia Heap, principal and chief executive of Hopwood Hall College, said: “We are delighted at Hopwood Hall to be one of the first colleges approved by the Department for Education to be delivering T-Levels from September 2021.
“It offers a huge opportunity for prospective students and also for local employers to support and develop the skills of our future workforce in Rochdale. It’s a truly exciting time for Rochdale.
“T-Levels are new qualifications, designed in conjunction with employers and are equivalent to three A-Levels,” she said. “The ‘T’ stands for technical and allows students, when they leave school, to have another route into an academic option. It also allows them to study a technical qualification that is designed by employers.
“The T-Levels include a minimum of 45 days of work placements to make students work-ready. 80 per cent of their learning takes place in the classroom.
“We’re talking to a number of employers. Willmott Dixon have already confirmed placements and conversations are taking place with a number of other companies.
“We want to raise awareness with employers so they know what T-Levels are. It’s a massive change in further education and the T-Levels are really important in maintaining the talent pipeline.”
Paul Pritchard, centre director for technology, said: “We are very excited to be in the position to build the extension to the centre. It will give Hopwood the opportunity to work with AMPI and Greater Manchester Combined Authority to deliver manufacturing and engineering skills that will support employers of all sizes to create pathways in employment across Greater Manchester.
“Our plans and new curriculum will support Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s carbon emissions vision.”
AMPI stands for Advanced Machinery and Productivity Institute and is a multi-partner initiative planned for Rochdale.
Cllr John Blundell, an RDA board member and Rochdale Council cabinet member for regeneration, said: “This is brilliant news for Rochdale. It will help bridge the gap between the classroom and the workplace. It also dovetails very neatly into the AMPI project.”
Tracey Wood, head of business development at Hopwood Hall College, said the T-Levels will start in September 2021 and applications are currently being taken.
“We are building employer advisory boards and steering groups to put business at the heart of the college, ensuring our courses fill skills gaps and our students are equipped for employment,” she said.
“T-Levels are aimed at 16-19-year-olds as an alternative to A-Levels, however with recent government announcements and new policies such as the lifetime skills guarantee, this could expand to adults in the near future.”