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Farrans supports Anglian Water’s Green Skills Academy to encourage careers in environmental sustainability


Anglian Water has announced a new Green Skills Academy at the College of West Anglia in Wisbech, with £2 million of overall funding from the water company and its alliance partners, including Farrans.

The project has also received £2 million of funding from the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority’s Recycled Local Growth Fund, as well as £200,000 from the College of West Anglia.

The £4 million training centre, which was launched at Business in the Community’s (BiTC) ‘Seeing is Believing’ event in the town this week, will provide a vital hub for local people keen to pursue a career helping the environment. It will be based at a new, sustainable building, powered by solar panels and with rainwater harvesting technology installed to reduce water use.

It is expected to open its doors for teaching on initial courses in sustainability and wildlife conservation in September 2024, with a full offering to be made available at the new building from 2025.

Once a thriving town, Wisbech has struggled with sustained underinvestment since the industrial revolution – with a national index placing the town in the bottom 10% nationally for four of the top eight deprivation indicators.

The new Green Skills Academy aims to create a pipeline of new talent, with highly employable environmental skills. Green skills such as carbon reduction and conservation work will be vital in delivering the infrastructure and environmental work crucial to building resilience against the ever-increasing impacts of climate change over the coming years. This is particularly fundamental for Anglian Water, which has proposed £9 billion of investment into the East of England between 2025 and 2030. In order to deliver this plan, the company will need to recruit thousands of new employees, including up to 800 apprentices – many of them into green jobs.

Jason Tucker, Director of Strategic Delivery & Commercial Assurance for Anglian Water, said: “Wisbech is at the heart of our region, so it was an ideal location to see how we could make a positive difference to the social and environmental prosperity of the area. But that’s not the only reason it’s so important. The Fens are also crucial to the East of England – and the entire country – for their agricultural output. With half the UK’s most fertile agricultural land and producing a fifth of the nation’s crops and a third of its vegetables, the Fens are widely considered the country’s breadbasket. Our work in the town over the last ten years has now evolved to explore how we need to overcome challenges at a landscape scale to deliver a sustainable future.

“We’ve long prioritised social prosperity alongside environmental outcomes, especially through our work in Wisbech with BiTC and through the Future Fens project. This new training school will help provide a pathway for local people, especially those at the start of their career, to get involved in really important work that will benefit our region’s environment for years to come. It’s not only great to be able to provide high-quality employment opportunities in an area where there are so few – but it’s also crucial that we invest in these skills now, so that we can deliver the much-needed environmental improvements that will build our region’s resilience to climate change.”

David Pomfret, Principal of the College of West Anglia, said: “I am delighted we have now secured external funding to progress this important project. Skills are vital to the socio-economic prosperity of the area and this centre will enable us to meet local green skills needs whilst providing great career opportunities for local people. We are grateful to the Combined Authority for having the vision to fund this exciting facility and excited to build on our strategic partnership with the Anglian Water and its Alliances, through their transformational investment.”

The training centre in Wisbech sits alongside several other projects to encourage recruitment, particularly of early careers candidates, across the wider East of England. The water company’s alliances already work with the College of West Anglia on its Collaborative Skills Programme, which gives local people an opportunity to access apprenticeships with Anglian Water Alliance partners.

Similar collaborative skills hubs have also been created in Grimsby, Milton Keynes, and Bury St Edmunds. This work is in addition to Anglian Water’s @one Alliance’s existing training school, which prepares employees to quickly gain the skills needed to deliver the water company’s capital investment programmes.