GOING back-to-basics is key to the growth of Hartford training centre, according to its new boss.

Nigel Donohue took over as CEO of West Anglia Training Association (WATA), in Old Houghton Road, Huntingdon, at the beginning of the year and has come up with an ambitious plan to develop the training centre with a new building for engineering, manufacturing and specialist construction training that will “compliment the existing facilities”.

Mr Donohue hopes to submit plans for the 1,700sq m building next month and hopes the simple industrial-style building will be ready for use from September.

As part of the plan, Mr Donohue, who joined from CITB Construction Skills, believes the centre will train 150 apprentices over two years from the building’s completion in addition to 200 apprentices currently in workplace training.

Mr Donohue told The Hunts Post: “I have remapped our 2020 vision and part of that is the new building to offer apprenticeship study. It will go well with our current facilities where we have classrooms, lecture theatres and conference rooms.

“We will be able to offer engineering, manufacturing and specialist construction training including scaffolding, confined space, general construction operative and some warehouse training. At the moment the nearest specialist centre for construction is in Bircham Newton, near King’s Lynn in Norfolk and our direct delivery of engineering and manufacturing alongside a new specialist construction offer will certainly bring value to our member companies and address a skills shortfall in the region.

“The vision is really to ensure we have a curriculum which is driven by employers, addresses the skills needs required to grow the local economy and provides the best possible opportunities for young people to progress.

“It’s about going back to basics to grow our membership as a group training association which addresses their needs.”

He added that the plans had the backing of the Greater Cambridge-Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership and the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce.

Mr Donohue added: “As we are a charity, our focus is on reinvesting any surpluses to further develop our offer to member companies and our new build reflects this approach.”