PROGRESS is continuing on the Vision Tameside project with a commitment made to help a new generation of workers.
Apprentices connected to the flagship development who faced an uncertain future when original sub-contractor Carillion went into liquidation have been reassured they will be able to complete their apprenticeship programme.
The pledge has been made by Robertson Construction Group Limited, which is set to replace Carillion in building the new Vision Tameside development. Robertson, one of the largest independently owned construction companies in the UK, has entered an Early Works Agreement with Inspiredspaces Tameside Limited (LEP), who are contracted to design and build the new facilities. This has been extended while work continues to secure the employment of key construction staff, bring subcontractors back on site and agree a new sub contract.
The pioneering project comprises of a new 7,000 m2 Advanced Skills Centre for Tameside College, a new Joint Public Service Centre for Tameside Council and its partners and retail space for Wilko’s.
The pledge is good news for apprentices such as Harry Rowan (20), from Stalybridge, who had a worrying time when Carillion collapsed.
He started an apprenticeship in bricklaying with Carillion in 2016 and enjoyed the initial 26 week Level 1 construction course. He was close to completing Level 2 and had worked on Vision Tameside from its inception. But he turned up for work in January to find it had stalled.
Harry said: “I’d been really enjoying it. Bricklaying is what I really wanted to do. I was quite worried about where I would end up and what I was going to do.”
Following the signing of the early works agreement with Robertson, Harry will be able to complete his Level 2 qualification with Robertson and Tameside College.
He said: “It’s a relief. It’s been a daunting few months waiting to get back into work. I just had to be patient.
“Everyone has been really helpful. It’s great to see work carrying on here again. It’s a nice building and will help Tameside. I just want to get back on with what I’ve been learning to do. I’m glad I’ve got into a trade at my age and hopefully it will be a platform into site management.”
Leaders from Tameside Council and Tameside College were given a tour by Robertson of what will become the Advanced Skills Centre, which will be fitted with state-of-the-art equipment for students to study a range of vocational skills. They also saw where a new public library will be created.
Based on Wellington Road, Ashton-under-Lyne, on the former site of the Tameside Council administration building, the new Joint Public Service Centre will also provide residents with more cost effective and customer friendly facilities under one roof.
Once completed, the new development will bring thousands of new staff and students to the town centre, boosting the retail economy.
Tameside Council Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington said: “I’m delighted that apprentices such as Harry will be able to continue with their courses to become the next generation of workers in Tameside.
“Vision Tameside will provide not only jobs and growth to Tameside but the opportunity for young people to learn construction skills while contributing to a flagship development, earning wages and paving the way for future employment.
“It is also wonderful to see the progress that’s being made on site and the new college facilities. Getting the new building built and open is our top priority and I’m pleased that work with Robertson is progressing.”
All Carillion employees that had worked on the project and were still looking for employment have been given roles by Robertson.
There will be a delay in the original planned completion date but everything possible is being done to keep that to a minimum.
Dirk Pittaway, Managing Director of Robertson North West, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to make a commitment to apprentices like Harry and help the next generation of builders begin their careers.
“The project is a high priority for Tameside and we’re proud to be able to play our part in ensuring it’s successfully delivered.”
For more information on the Vision Tameside project please go to http://www.visiontameside.com/