Gordon has visited Blackpool and Fylde College’s new state of the art Lancashire Energy HQ.
The Energy HQ off Squires Gate Lane is the newest addition to the College's buildings and facilities and opened in September at a cost of £10.7 million - with funding of £4.33m from the College and Lancashire Enterprise Partnership paying £6.37m. The College Principal Bev Robinson and the HQ’s Operation Manager Don Harvie showed Gordon round the facilities and answered the MP's questions about the current enrolment and strategy for the Energy HQ.
The Energy College is in its first year of operation with 30 full time students doing Level 2 and Level 3 courses with many others coming to train and reskill on shorter courses and qualifications.
After going round the new Energy Hub Gordon commented: "The College's new Energy HQ is a significant addition to the new Enterprise Zone on Squires Gate Lane , and both as the local MP but also as Shadow Skills Minister It was important for me to be able to be briefed by Bev and Don about the focus the College is putting on the opportunities for the expansion of oil and gas offshore in Liverpool Bay and elsewhere , bringing skills and jobs to the area and the courses they are developing to cater for both new students and those returning to retrain and reskill.
"It was good to hear that as well as this focus, the Energy HQ is taking forward a strong emphasis on renewables in its courses and strategy. I have consistently argued that we have an opportunity, given our geographical position for both Blackpool and the Fylde Coast to become a strong hub for solar, wind and other green technologies.
"This is very much in line with my continuing campaign for a Cleaner, Greener Blackpool. I hope when the Energy HQ - which well-designed and spacious - has had its running in period it will be able to become a centre of excellence in this area delivering both specific skills for renewables as well as broader ones that will equip learners here and from further appeal with the transferable and sustainable skills we will need to prosper in the 2020s. I will be watching and monitoring this with keen interest in 2018."
On the visit Gordon saw a simulator emulating for learners the processes of a pressurised water reactor power station - this allows learners to gain knowledge and experience in a controlled set up, without any danger to themselves or equipment. He also looked over the joint Integrity training and assessment rig which enables the College to train and assess off-shore technicians - including people training to work on wind turbine installations.
Operations Manager Don Harvie said: "It was my pleasure to accompany our Principal, Bev Robinson, and to provide a guided tour for Gordon.
"Having worked in similar facilities around the globe, I can truly say that Lancashire Energy HQ is really world class. Everyone who visits the remarks on how outstanding the facility is - we have had visitors from as far away as Houston, Texas, who have left highly impressed.
"I am very proud to be able to play a part in the success and development of this initiative. With world-class facilities in an excellent location Lancashire Energy HQ is ideally positioned to serve the needs of students and industry."