PUPILS from secondary schools in and around Whitehill and Bordon visited the town’s flagship Future Skills Centre to see the new construction-training centre’s modern facilities.

The outreach event was attended by students from five secondary schools - Mill Chase Academy, in Bordon; Bohunt School, in Liphook, Eggar’s School and Amery Hill School, both in Alton; and The Petersfield School, Petersfield.

Each school took a minibus of year 10 and 11 pupils to the centre earlier this month.

There were activities, presentations and local stakeholders in attendance, including representatives from the Whitehill & Bordon Regeneration Company, which is developing the Prince Philip Barracks site in the town to provide a new town centre along with housing; the Construction Industry Training Board; Barratt Homes, which is building houses at the former Louisburg Barracks site; Solent University and more.

Pupils were given a general overview of the Future Skills Centre, which is located at the entrance to the new development at the former Louisburg Barracks in the north of the town.

They were shown, during their visit on Thursday, December 7, what the centre provides, its purpose and how it sits within the construction sector. This was followed by a tour of the facilities, construction-related taster sessions with current students, and the chance to ask staff some questions.

Said to be integral to the regeneration of Whitehill and Bordon, the centre has a curriculum centred around skills for the built environment, offering post-16 students everything they need to know if they wish to embark on a career in the construction industry.

The original idea for the centre was to allow the town to build itself by creating a local workforce.

And the centre is well placed to do so with plenty of developments taking place as part of the regeneration of Whitehill and Bordon, meaning students are never more than a short trip from a live, large-scale building site and opportunities to learn on the job.

Although the focus is on the construction sector, the centre also strives to be a local hub for technical training that will host a broad adult and community learning programme in Whitehill and Bordon at large.

The centre - located on former Ministry of Defence land now owned by the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency - cost £4million to build and was largely funded through a grant from the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), although Hampshire County Council gave £250,000 toward the project.

Basingstoke College of Technology manages the day-to-day operations at the centre.

Centre manager Steve Gilder said: “We’ve had really positive feedback from pupils, teachers and the organisations that attended the schools event.

Pupils commented on how they now saw the construction sector in a different light, how they enjoyed being taught by centre students during the practical activity and how they would now consider applying for construction courses at the Future Skills Centre.”