An opening ceremony, held to celebrate Bath College’s Somer Construction Centre, gave guests the chance to see students working in brand new workshops and classrooms recently.

The state-of-the-art facility, at the College’s Somer Valley Campus in Radstock, was built with support from the West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership.

It is being used to teach 500 students and apprentices studying bricklaying, construction, carpentry and stonemasonry, as well as plumbing, electrical installation and refrigeration.

Stonemasonry student Niall McCabe, 25, is a second year apprentice studying at Bath College and working at Bristol Stone Masonry.

He said: “I was quite surprised to see how big the building is. The facilities are better, especially the banker shop, there’s a lot more space for people.

“Carving stone is a very satisfying job. It’s nice to be part of the first group of stonemasons to move in – we’ll be able to put our mark on the place.”

Designs for the two-storey Somer Construction Centre were approved last year, with contractors Midas Group Ltd starting work in January.

Bath College Principal Laurel Penrose said: “We’re very proud of our new centre, which marks a significant investment in training and education at our Somer Valley Campus.

“Learning in this space, with the help of tutors who are industry experts, will give students and apprentices the best possible start to life at college and enable them to succeed in their chosen trade.

“Studying construction can lead to a wide-ranging career designing, creating and managing buildings. Our aim is to be known as a centre of excellence for the South West, helping to boost economic development and employment.

“We look forward to working with local employers, who will be able to come to Bath College to find their future workforce.”

The West of England Combined Authority and Local Enterprise Partnership supported the new build with an allocation of £2.73 million.

Nationally, the construction industry needs to hire more than 400,000 workers every year for the next five years in order to fill a skills gap and build enough homes to meet demand.

Limited places are available for students to sign up to a course at the Somer Construction Centre this year. Prospective students can also begin applying for a place to study in September 2018.