NDA and Magnox funded Willie Mackie Skills Hub opens at Ayrshire College

22 Sep 2023 01:44 PM

The state-of-the-art building has received £499,000 in funding from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Magnox Ltd.

On Thursday 21 September, Ayrshire College in Kilwinning officially opened their new Willie Mackie Skills Hub, which has received £499,000 in funding from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Magnox Ltd.

The Skills Hub will now be the primary location in North Ayrshire allowing college students, primary and secondary school pupils, employers and their workforces, and residents to access high quality STEM vocational skills training, previously unavailable within the area.

The apprenticeship provision at Ayrshire College has now expanded into North Ayrshire as a result of the state-of-the-art Skills Hub, with the first cohort of apprentices from James Frew Ltd welcomed earlier this month.

The Skills Hub name is derived from former Chair of the Ayrshire College Board of Management, Willie Mackie, who stepped down from the role after completing an impressive tenure as a regional college Chair.

David Peattie, CEO NDA, said:

This facility will provide an inspirational learning environment for young people and help them access the employment opportunities of the future.

The NDA is tasked with decommissioning the UK’s earliest nuclear sites safely, securely, and sustainably. We know that we’re going to require a highly skilled workforce to progress our mission and high-quality local education provision is essential to deliver that.

Supporting essential projects like the Willie Mackie Skills Hub helps us deliver our commitment to leave a positive, long-lasting legacy for future generations, within our site communities.

Rob Fletcher, interim CEO Magnox, added:

Magnox is committed to supporting the local communities near its sites and this is a great example of how we have been able to work with an organisation that makes a real difference to the lives of the people in this area.

Our decommissioning mission at Hunterston A, and in future years Hunterston B, relies on developments of this nature. Magnox is committed to encouraging and developing education and skills and creating opportunities for sustainable employment.

The Willie Mackie Skills Hub will be the primary location for high quality STEM vocational skills development for college students, primary and secondary school pupils, employers and their workforce and North Ayrshire residents seeking to train and upskill. Our engagement with the college is helping us achieve our objective to create a sustainable future for individuals and local organisations in the area.

Angela Cox, Ayrshire College Principal and Chief Executive, said:

We are thrilled to launch this innovative facility that will inspire our future workforce, enable our current students to excel in their chosen career and support our employers to remain competitive in sectors being disrupted by new technologies.

The Willie Mackie Skills Hub embodies our commitment to providing Ayrshire with the skilled workforce it requires to thrive.

The NDA has a rich history of supporting a whole range of projects which benefit the communities that surround its sites. In the last five years, over £75 million has been invested in community projects, attracting millions more into local and regional educational, skills and community initiatives.

The organisation’s socio-economic contributions have seen the delivery of new schools, jobs, skills, and training facilities in the communities in which it operates. Recent examples include £1.8m to support mental health services in Cumbria, £5m to renovate Scrabster Harbour in Thurso and over £380,000 to modernise facilities at the Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor campuses in Northwest Wales.

The low-carbon, two-storey building has been made possible with significant funding contributions from the Magnox and Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) socio-economic schemes, North Ayrshire Council, the Ayrshire College Foundation and the Scottish Funding Council.

The spaces created will now offer a learning environment that is better suited to emerging technologies and will allow Ayrshire College to offer training in sustainable and SMART technologies, alongside traditional construction roles i.e. joinery.

Ayrshire College is one of the largest colleges in Scotland, formed in 2013 from the merger of the former Ayr and Kilmarnock Colleges and the Ayrshire campuses of the former James Watt College. The College has around 840 staff across three main campuses in the towns of Ayr, Kilmarnock and Kilwinning.