The Construction Industry Training Board’s (CITB) state of the art facility in Bircham Newton has recently been fitted out with 16 revolutionary plant simulators which will help train the next generation of plant operators.
Designed to simulate a wide range of different plant the hi-tech machine gives trainees a chance to operate excavators, cranes, crawler dozers and telehandlers to name but a few. The technology itself is continually developing and will be able to train people for a wider range of jobs in the future.
Simulators offer a truly immersive learning experience and offer the chance for trainees to try out the equipment whilst minimising any health and safety risks. The simulators also track learner progress and can challenge them with different scenarios.
The £1.2M investment comes at a time when construction is in need of plant operators. CITB’s latest skills forecast shows strong demand in this area, with almost 5,000 plant operatives required over the next five years.
Graham McPhail, Head of Education and Training at CITB, said: “This is the first large-scale investment into plant simulator technology anywhere in the UK.
“New methods of technology are playing an increasingly important role in construction and this investment will help us modernise the way we train. It is really pleasing to see the added value the simulators provide to all our learners. I am very grateful to the LEP for their support in helping this to happen.
“CITB is committed to ensuring the right training is in place to produce the highly-skilled workforce required in our industry.”
Laura Welham-Halstead, Head of Communications at the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We are delighted to support the development of this unique training facility in our area. Ensuring that we have an appropriately skilled workforce both now and in the future is one of our key priorities, and there is no doubt that this new facility will help us to achieve that goal.”
Josh Missin, a 24-year-old plant apprentice from Wisbech who works with plant-hire firm Mervyn Lambert, has been training on the simulators.
He said: “The simulators are great. As someone who had never used any form of plant machinery before, I was quite nervous before doing so. However, the simulators allowed me to quickly learn how certain controls worked, which meant I felt much more confident when using the machines in real life.
“They are also good when bad weather would stop us from using the real machines, as you don’t feel like you’ve lost a day’s work.
“I would definitely encourage anyone interested in this type of construction to have a go on the simulators. They should be used in everyone’s plant apprenticeship training.”