The industry’s only dedicated site-based training centre for university students could be forced to close unless it secures rescue funding from the government
Constructionarium, which is located at the National Construction College in Norfolk, is facing a funding shortfall of £2.7m over the next three years.
It has lodged an appeal for stop-gap funding with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) for a fraction of the sum to secure the centre’s short-term future and buy it time to agree financing from other government sources. Organisers say without public money it will be forced to scale back its programmes and possibly to shut down.
It is understood that Hefce, which has recently had its budget slashed for 2010/11, is sympathetic to the stop-gap appeal, despite previously refusing an application for £2.8m towards the centre’s running costs.
Constructionarium has been largely funded by the industry since its creation in 2003, securing £3.5m of support in cash and kind alongside £1.1m of regional government funding. However, as the centre has expanded, its organisers have made repeated, but ineffective, calls for government money.
Its latest appeal is for funding for three years, after which it estimates that the ConstructionSkills levy will cover the running costs of the site.
Constructionarium trains about 1,050 graduates a year from 18 universities. Firms involved with the centre include Atkins, Laing O’Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine and John Doyle Construction.
Stef Stefanou, chairman of Constructionarium, said: “We approached the government when Bill Rammell was skills minister, and he was very supportive. The new minister, David Lammy, heard us, was impressed, but delivered nothing.”