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The Corporation

Posted: 22/03/13

£11m investment to prepare students for employment

Students are gaining the skills for employment and cutting-edge industry experience, thanks to a multi-million pound investment by West Nottinghamshire College.

A flagship £11m centre has opened at its Derby Road campus in Mansfield to train the hairstylists, beauticians, holistic therapists, chefs and hospitality professionals of tomorrow.

The building, which forms the centrepiece of a £40m investment in the college’s estate across Mansfield and Ashfield, is providing students with some of the best vocational training facilities in the region including:

  • Commercial hair and beauty salons including professional nail bar
  • State-of-the-art spa offering a range of treatments and experiences
  • Fine-dining restaurant that accommodates 60 covers.

Set over three floors, it is home to the college’s lifestyle academy – which comprises the hair, beauty, complementary therapies, hospitality and catering curriculums – along with health and social care, and A-Levels provision.

The commercial facilities are open to the public so students can experience working with customers, while learners can also hone their skills in the building’s four training salons and professional kitchen.

Called ‘Revive’, the salons, nail bar and spa enable advanced students to practice their skills alongside experienced stylists; giving them a head-start when fully-qualified.    

The fine-dining restaurant ‘Refined’ sees professional cookery and hospitality students working alongside experienced chefs and front-of-house staff to get a taste of the industry.

Principal and chief executive Asha Khemka OBE said: “It’s vital we equip students with not only the right qualifications but also the skills and characteristics that employers are looking for.

“By providing students with the most realistic working environment possible, they are gaining the all-important industry experience needed to succeed in a competitive jobs market.

“These inspirational new facilities provide a 21st century learning experience that prepares young people for employment and higher-level study, along with opportunities to grow our apprenticeship provision.

“At the same time, Mansfield is benefitting from new hair, beauty, spa and fine-dining facilities that rival many high-end professional establishments.”

The college’s investment has been backed by the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce.

Chief executive George Cowcher said: “This fantastic new facility represents a major investment in the skills and development of the future workforce of Mansfield and its surrounding areas.

“It will give young people the opportunity to learn in a realistic workplace environment to ensure they understand the expectations of employers and are better prepared for the world of work.

“Equipping young people with the skills, qualifications and vocational experience that local businesses need is vital to move our economy forward and enable employers to create the jobs and growth needed to secure and sustain the UK's economic recovery.”

The new building boasts around 4,000sq.m of additional teaching and learning space including 17 modern classrooms, six IT suites and an open-plan student resource area.

In addition to PCs and laptops, each classroom and IT suite contains hi-tech audio visual equipment including interactive Smart boards and projectors to enhance multimedia teaching capability, and speaker systems to help those who respond more effectively to an auditory learning style.

Meanwhile, additional learning and social space has been created by turning an outdoor courtyard into a bright and airy partially-glazed indoor area.

The next stage in the transformation of the Derby Road campus includes converting a workshop into teaching space for the visual arts curriculum and re-cladding the landmark six-storey tower and other buildings to rejuvenate the site’s visual appearance.

Caption: College principal and chief executive Asha Khemka OBE celebrates the opening of the £11m state-of-the-art facility with (from left) Dave Shoreman, project leader at architect IBI Taylor Young; Jeremy Prentice, relationship manager at Lloyds Commercial Banking; Tom Stevens, executive director of capital projects and estates at West Nottinghamshire College; and quantity surveyor Jonathan Etches and project manager Paul Hills of Mansell Construction Services.