Virendra Sharma, Member of Parliament for Ealing Southall, paid a visit to our Southall Community College Construction and Green Skills Centre on 17 October 2023, as part of Colleges Week. The purpose of the visit was to explore the future of construction skills and West London College’s collaboration with industry employers.
West London College made a significant £3million investment in the Construction and Green Skills Centre, which opened for teaching in May. The facility caters to approximately 300 construction learners and apprentices annually. One of its notable features is the multi-skills programme, allowing students to experiment with various trades before specialising. Additionally, the centre offers courses in plumbing, electrical installations, carpentry, brickwork, and plastering from Level 1 to Level 3.
As we approach the Mayor’s target to reach net zero by 2030, the centre is preparing to launch courses in green skills. During the visit, Chris Hawley, a plumbing lecturer, showcased the centre’s air source heat pumps, solar panels, and photovoltaic storage units for solar-generated electricity.
As Mr. Sharma toured the centre, he interacted with students who demonstrated their skills.
A level 2 plumbing student, Aleks Bogdalski, explained the intricacies of creating and testing copper pipe frames.
In the brickwork section, the local MP engaged with Level 2 students Ashley Purewal and Steven Abi Elias, who elaborated on wall-strengthening principles. Brickwork student Tomasz Zarzycki demonstrated the creation of a plumb line to ensure straight walls.
The tour concluded in the carpentry workshop, where Julia Kowalczyk explained the concepts of crafting common and hip rafters for roofing.
Aaron Black, another Carpentry Level 2 student, highlighted the importance of maths in carpentry, from calculating angles to dimensions.
Aaron said: “I know the names of all the roofing parts, rise, span, run, pitch line, cuts and I apply pythagoras and trigonometry to calculate lengths and use sines and cosines to calculate angles. I am confident I could construct a roof.”
Lisa Portland, Assistant Principal, expressed her pride in the students’ performance during the visit, noting their confidence and competence in discussing their trades.
Lisa said: “Our students took a keen interest in the visit from our MP and they greatly appreciated the interest he took in their work. They demonstrated their skills well and spoke very confidently about their trades. I am very proud of them.”
Virendra Sharma MP was impressed by the warm and welcoming atmosphere at the centre, emphasising its significance in facilitating effective learning.
Mr. Sharma said: “There is such a friendly and welcoming atmosphere here and that is the most important part for students to learn. In my lifetime I’ve seen people turning away from studying construction and that’s why we have such a skills shortage. Now it is becoming a popular subject again and women are proving they can do it just as successfully as men. I am very glad that the college is within my constituency.”