Stoke Staffs LEP
Showpiece Stoke on Trent Heat Academy welcomes students
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Showpiece Stoke on Trent Heat Academy welcomes students

A new Heat Academy at Stoke on Trent College has welcomed its first cohort of 15 apprentices from local construction companies for training in the range of technologies that will power the city’s pioneering £50million District Heat Network.

The apprentices have started their courses this month and at the end of January the college will also be welcoming 350 Year 10 pupils to try out the new equipment as part of a Robot Challenge.

The new facilities at the college’s Burslem Campus are preparing businesses and their staff to deliver all aspects of Stoke-on-Trent’s District Heat Network project, which is currently the largest low-carbon scheme being constructed in the UK. The training includes everything from specialised welding and plumbing, groundworks and supply chain management to logistics, construction and site management.

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s City Deal, agreed with Government, is providing £19.75million of funding towards the low-carbon District Heat Network – a system of underground pipes that will provide heat via hot water between energy centres and buildings connected by the underground network.

The LEP has also contributed £72,000 towards the £144,000 cost of new equipment at the Heat Academy, via its Skills Equipment Fund – part of its Local Growth funding from Government. The Heat Academy equipment includes state-of-the-art welding and groundworks equipment to facilitate the specialist training required to work on the District Heat Network.  This includes ground-breaking training in fusion welding, plus civil engineering and surveying.

The college will also be hosting a Robot Challenge on January 30 and 31, when the new equipment will be introduced to some 350 Year 10 pupils from across the area.

The District Heat Network, being delivered by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, will harness heat from sources including deep geothermal energy and energy from waste, which will be transferred through a system of heat exchangers into the network.  Initially the heat energy will be supplied to larger commercial and public sector premises across the city and over time the aim is to connect to a wider variety of premises including blocks of flats and clusters of houses across the city.

Denise Brown, Principal and CEO at Stoke on Trent College, said: “The new academy is funded by the Local Enterprise Partnership because of the specialist skills and training required to complete the installation of this major new energy infrastructure in the region. Any company that works on the network will need to send staff to receive specialist training at the Academy. This is an unmissable opportunity for local companies to be first to seize the opportunities the new District Heat Network will bring.”

LEP chairman David Frost CBE said: “The LEP’s key aims include raising skills levels and creating more and better paid jobs in priority sectors of our local economy such as energy and advanced manufacturing. The new Heat Academy will play a vital role in equipping our workforce with the skills we need for the growth sectors of the future.

“The District Heat network has huge potential as a source of affordable low-carbon energy for local businesses and residents. It illustrates the can-do attitude of the LEP and Stoke-on-Trent City Council in finding greener energy solutions that will help our economy to thrive.”

Minister for Local Growth, Jake Berry MP said: “This Government is committed to boosting economic growth across the whole of the UK and building a Britain fit for the future.

“Future skills are central to this, which is why I’m delighted that £72,000 from the Local Growth Fund will support the Heat Academy in training up the next generation of construction and built environment specialists including engineers, electricians and plumbers. And not only will this project boost employment prospects for local young people, it supports our wider City Deal plan to transform the city’s growth prospects for the better.”

Councillor Anthony Munday, cabinet member for greener city, development and leisure Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “Stoke-on-Trent is at the forefront of a new energy revolution – and we’re clear that we want local companies here in Staffordshire to enjoy the benefits of this.

“The District Heat Network will bring reduced energy costs for residents and a cleaner, greener more sustainable future for Stoke-on-Trent. It will also bring local job opportunities and high value contracts for the installation and maintenance of the network, helping to continue the growth we’re seeing here in the city.

“There will be some very specialist skills required and all the partners involved in this project are committed to ensuring our local workforce, apprentices and self-employed contractors can develop the required expertise and play a pivotal role in the ongoing development of this innovative and exciting project.”

Pictured: District Heat Network construction


“Local Growth Fund”

Local Enterprise Partnerships are playing a vital role in driving forward economic growth across the country, helping to build a country that works for everyone.

That’s why by 2021 Government will have invested over £12bn through the Local Growth Fund, allowing LEPs to use their local knowledge to get all areas of the country firing on all cylinders.

Analysis has shown that every £1 of Local Growth Fund invested could generate £4.81 in benefits. 

Some additional key facts:

  • There are 38 LEPs covering the whole of England
  • The government has awarded £9.1bn in three rounds of Growth Deals to local areas to drive economic growth.
  • LEPs are investing in a wide range of projects informed by detailed analysis of the most pressing economic needs in each of their areas, including transport, skills, business support, broadband, innovation and flood defences.

 Midlands Engine

Some Midlands Engine key facts:

  • The government is committed to making the Midlands an Engine for Growth in the UK, increasing economic growth and improving the quality of life for everyone. The Midlands is home to over 10 million people and over 780,000 businesses. Its economy is worth £217.7 billion.
  • So far the government has awarded £1.9 billion in three rounds of Growth Deals across the Midlands.
  • 8 Enterprise Zones have been established in the Midlands Engine since 2012, and 3 zones have been extended. By March 2016 these had attracted almost £1 billion of private investment, and created 85 new businesses and 7,291 jobs.