A multi-million-pound training academy for the construction industry is to officially open in Warwickshire this month – and will be the first of its kind for the sector.

Hercules Site Services, which has its HQ in Cirencester, is a leading civil engineering, construction and utilities firm which includes supplying labour to projects led by HS2 and other Tier 1 construction companies throughout England.

The growing business has invested £5.5 million to transform the former Gibbs Technologies building in Avenue Road, Nuneaton, into its first training academy which will also be the first of its kind for the sector as it brings together a mix of practical skills training coupled with the more technical design area of construction all in one place.

The first phase of the Hercules Construction Academy has involved refurbishing 950 sqm of space into a suite of state-of-the-art training and meeting rooms, test rooms, a staff room, offices, toilets and reception area.

Laura Delahunty from Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub provided support to Paul Blakeman, Head of Training, in helping to get the Hercules Construction Academy up and running – including making introductions to Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council’s Economic Development. Vicki Haslam at the Warwickshire Skills Hub has provided support with links to other training providers to explore partnership working opportunities and also supported in the recruitment of the academy’s first apprentice.

Paul said the building had been empty for nearly two years and it has taken over 12 months to complete the demolition work and renovations.

He said: “Hercules Site Services is made up of different divisions and we have grown massively since we were set-up in 2013.

“This will be our first construction training academy to provide accredited training programmes from the Construction Industry Training Board, the Construction Plant Competence Scheme, the National Open College Network, and the Energy and Utilities Service Register for people who are making their way in the industry, from T levels to degree-level students to up-skill in everything from highways maintenance to management and structural design.

“We have space for 80 students plus another 30 in the external training space which replicate a modern construction site, and we want to support the local community by providing training facilities for people in Warwickshire and further afield.

“We are also wanting to start T levels up to degree level in digital design, construction design, estimating and surveying by using VR technology, drones and simulation, and a company called T3 Training and Development is partnering with us to deliver these courses.

“We are putting forward plans to Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council for the second phase which would be to transform another 1,000 sqm with similar facilities which would be a further £1 million investment.

“Everyone who has visited so far thinks it is a fantastic facility and it’s what the area needs, and we have been amazed at the support we have received.”

Laura Delahunty, Business Navigator at Coventry and Warwickshire Growth Hub, said the opening of the Hercules Construction Academy highlighted the importance of partnership working throughout the sub-region.

She said: “Paul and his team faced a number of challenges to get the site opened, but we have made several introductions which emphasises the great collaboration there is in Coventry and Warwickshire.

“This training facility will be used by Hercules Site Services’ existing workforce as well as the next generation of construction workers from this region and beyond. The first external students will be enrolled from January and they will be learning using the very best facilities.”

Councillor Kristofer Wilson, Leader of Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, said: “The Hercules Construction Academy is a fantastic facility that provides a multitude of training opportunities for those within our Borough and beyond.

“I’m incredibly proud of the collaboration which has brought this facility to fruition. As a first of its kind within this sector, I’m sure that the students will excel with access to such a wonderful facility. We look forward to working with the academy in the future to help them fulfil their expansion plans.”

Cllr Martin Watson, Warwickshire County Council Portfolio Holder for Economy, said: “It’s fantastic to provide a base to a training organisation who will significantly boost the opportunities for Warwickshire residents to explore a career in construction.

“Hercules offer an impressive selection of courses which will complement the needs of the industry and our local businesses.”

Caption: Back, from the left: Ellie Nowill (CW Growth Hub), Sophie Brown (Hercules Site Services), Carol Ingleston (Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council), Joanna Blackman (Hercules Site Services) and Jon Burton (Hercules Site Services).
Front, from the left: Vicki Haslam (Warwickshire County Council), Paul Blakeman (Hercules Site Services) and Laura Delahunty (CW Growth Hub)