Our building and construction industry is not known for its foresight in the development of training.
And at a time when there are major opportunities for infrastructure work in Gloucestershire, professional training is more important than ever before.
So, I was frankly blown away when I went to the opening of the AccXel Centre - a new construction education project for the industry - in the Forest of Dean at Cinderford.
I go to a lot of business events but this was awe-inspiring.
That inspiration simply came from the dynamism of the three Bell sisters who have set this up with the help of their family building business, KW Bell, and a host of well known trade partners.
Those 27 trade partners are a real role call of the biggest names in the business nationally like JCB and Leica Geosystems, and here in Gloucestershire — Barnwood Construction, Clarkson Evans, Keyway, Bloor Homes and Coslin Construction.
I am pleased to say that GFirstLEP recognised the value of this badly needed training centre for the construction industry and were successful in being awarded nearly £2 million from the government’s Getting Building Fund towards the project. The real power brokers of Gloucestershire business and councils were at the Cinderford opening, and afterwards I talked to one of them - Tony Dale, Cotswolds Cabinet Member for Economy and Transformation.
He told me: “I thought the durability and resilience of the team of sisters that set this up under the auspices of the family business was just awe inspiring.
“I would love to create the equivalent to this in the Cotswolds with a heritage building training centre which we desperately need.
“We simply do not have enough young people coming through with those building skills to become stonemasons and slaters”.
Nicola Bird, one of the sisters, founder and managing director of the project, tells me:
“It makes me proud we are having such an impact on the industry by supporting its succession, growth and ambitions”.
Well done, to you Nicola and your sisters. For too long the construction industry has not had the career training paths it needs and deserves.