Princess Anne visits Gloucestershire construction school
By Sarah Wood
Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, will visit AccXel, the UK's first co-funded, industry-led construction school today (May 12).
The Princess Royal will tour the £3m facility in the Forest of Dean and meet the staff and apprentices, as well as AccXel's business partners and local dignitaries. She will also meet local school pupils aspiring to work in construction and observe construction and plant operations and experiment with AccXel's state-of-the-art simulation technology.
The visit will be commemorated by the unveiling of a plaque at the school.
Nicola Bird, founder and CEO of AccXel, said: "We are honoured to be welcoming HRH The Princess Royal to our school and to showcase employer-led education, creating life-long careers and inspiring the next generation of construction professionals."
Since opening in January 2022, AccXel has created over 70 jobs for local people, and given more than 150 people the opportunity to advance their careers in construction.
The school is set to create an annual 64 career-starting opportunities through its apprenticeship programmes, starting in September 2023.
Paul Worsley, a 43-year-old from Cinderford, who started AccXel's JCB plant operations apprenticeship in 2022, said: "AccXel's apprenticeship gave me the perfect opportunity to change career, and as a bonus the facility is so close to home. The equipment and technology available are fantastic and I don't think there's anywhere in the country that offers anything quite like AccXel."
AccXel has secured partnerships with industry giants and local and national construction companies, who have pledged to employ AccXel apprentices or to upskill their existing workforce at the facility. Its employer-led, practical approach to education provides the industry with a scalable solution to the current skills crisis.
AccXel mirrors the philosophy of the allied construction company, K W Bell Group Ltd, in supporting the local community, through sharing its facilities for community use.
Natalie King, operations director at AccXel, said: "One of AccXel's objectives is to connect the industry to enforce real change. Improving diversity and inclusion is just one of the many ways we want to change construction. Through working in collaboration with our extensive partner network, we believe we can improve diversity and raise awareness of the opportunities for all."
The construction school's dedication to improving diversity in construction will almost certainly be of interest to The Princess Royal, who has been a long-standing patron of WISE, an organisation which helps girls and women pursue careers in STEM.
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