College's £11m centre dishes up real job prospects for students
A NEW £11m college building features its own beauty salon and restaurant where students can learn real skills to prepare themselves for the world of work.
West Notts College has opened the flagship building at its Mansfield campus.
The £11 million centre in Derby Road will provide training for the hairstylists, beauticians, holistic therapists, chefs and hospitality professionals of tomorrow.
It is the centrepiece of a £24 million overhaul of the campus, which will also feature a new sports hall and arts centre. The main tower will also be re-cladded.
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The centre, home to the college's Lifestyles Academy, was officially unveiled yesterday.
Students will be able to provide services to the public as part of their courses.
Student hairdressers and beauty therapists will work in a salon called Revive, while catering students will gain experience in a fine dining restaurant called Refined.
And with nearly one in 20 people in Mansfield out of work, it is hoped it will boost students' job prospects.
Melanie Barford-Cowley, 41, of Blidworth, who is doing a level two course in beauty therapy, said: "The building is excellent. We were previously in a tired building in the town centre, so to come here is amazing.
"We actually get the chance to have customers in here and put what we have learned into practice.
"I want to be able to get a job and possibly run my own salon in the future, so this will really help out."
Student hairdresser Sheema Morrabi, 21, of Mansfield, agreed.
She said: "It is a great place to come and learn. Everything in the building is state-of-the-art, like the equipment we use and even the products we have.
"I really look forward to coming into college now."
Professional cookery student Lathaniel Marshall, 18, is able to learn the ropes behind the bar.
He said: "The restaurant is great. I am able to practice things like cocktail making, which is really good experience."
The new building has three floors, catering for around 3,000 students.
It was designed by architects IBI Taylor Young and built by Mansell Construction.
Part of the funding came from a deal with Lloyds Commercial Banking, with the college putting up the rest.
As well as the salon and restaurant, there are also 17 classrooms, six IT suites and an open-plan resource area.
In addition to PCs and laptops, each classroom and IT suite contains hi-tech audio visual equipment.
As well as the Derby Road campus rebuild, the college is spending a further £16 million on its other buildings across Mansfield and parts of Ashfield.
Principal and chief executive Asha Khemka OBE said: "It's vital we equip students with not only the right qualifications but also the skills and characteristics that employers are looking for. By providing students with the most realistic working environment possible, they are gaining the all-important industry experience needed to succeed in a competitive jobs market."
The college's investment has been backed by the Derbyshire and Notts Chamber of Commerce.
Chief executive George Cowcher said: "It will give young people the opportunity to learn in a realistic workplace environment to ensure they understand the expectations of employers and are better prepared for the world of work."