Recording and television studios, cutting edge technical classrooms and a theatre are giving South Yorkshire youngsters the best chance of landing top jobs.
Students at The Sheffield College are already benefiting from a £15.6 million investment which has upgraded facilities at two of its campuses in the city.
According to college bosses, the two new multi-million pound buildings in Hillsborough and Lowfield offer education and training in growth sectors and will boost the employment prospects of young people in the creative and engineering industries.
The £8.8m extension to the Hillsborough campus, on Livesey Street, houses subjects including graphic design, media, journalism and photography, which moved to the campus following the closure of one of the college’s main centres at Norton in the summer.
Teachers were heavily involved in the process of choosing what state-of-the-art features are included in the building such as the huge theatre, which features a platform for stage lighting and a steel framed and wire strung ceiling. There are also drama, television, photography, music and radio studios and £450,000 of new equipment.
Other specialist features include a recording studio and a double height dance studio with a sprung timber floor.
Jason Pepper, executive director, finance and resources at The Sheffield College, said it was a very exciting time for everyone involved.
He said: “Welcoming our first students to our two new landmark buildings is a fantastic milestone for us to reach after seeing the new facilities take shape during the last two years on the Sheffield skyline.
“Growing the economy is one of the major challenges facing employers and education providers.
“We are responding by launching new curriculum and facilities that will boost students’ career prospects, fill regional skills gaps and support economic growth.
“What we tried to do is plan our investment very closely with the needs of the region, so we took advice from the Local Enterprise Partnership and looked at areas where there are significant job opportunities and skills shortages.”
The upgrade to the accommodation reflects a longer term plan to ensure all students train in the latest high quality facilities to boost their skills.
The £6.8m Centre for Technology, Engineering and Design at the Olive Grove campus, on Olive Grove Road, Lowfield is the second of the two builds.
It comprises a teaching block with the latest cutting edge technical classrooms and workshops and solar panels on the roof.
The four-storey new building, which adds more than 2,600 square metres of new space, is attached to the existing campus and marked by a striking steel sail design and a contemporary atrium which contains a partially glazed flexible pod, to provide a communal break-out area for students.
Around £450,000 of new equipment for electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, motor vehicle, plumbing, heating and ventilation, and sustainable construction has been installed.
College leaders considered carefully where the investment in buildings should take place. How easily the sites are to access by public transport was high on the agenda.
Mr Pepper said the closure of Norton and the opening of the new buildings means that students can easily access each of the college’s four campuses using public transport.
“We did a travel study a while back and looked at areas of the city that were easy to get to by public transport,” he said.
“The majority of our students don’t drive or have a car, so use public transport.
“All our main sites are now on tram routes. The idea is that you can get between any of our sites within 20 minutes on public transport.”
Construction work on both buildings was carried out by Clugston, which had to plan its work around the hundreds of students who continued to use the buildings each day.
Paul Gouland, Clugston’s marketing director, visited the finished sites to tour the buildings with senior college leaders.
He said the project had its challenges but its extensive planning meant the building work went without a hitch.
“It is quite rewarding to come back and see it finished,” he added.
“Quite often our visits are while work is ongoing.
“It is nice to see all the techthat has been put in.
“We are all about the building so to come back and see it in use is rewarding.”
Both new-build projects have received a total of £10m capital funding from the Skills Funding Agency – money specifically ring-fenced for building projects– approved in October 2013.
The Sheffield College is holding a series of open evenings for school leavers and their parents about full-time courses which are starting next year.
The open evenings take place on November 9, 10 and 16 from 5pm to 8.30pm at City, Hillsborough, Peaks and Olive Grove campuses.