Kirklees College (@kirkleescollege) marked the official launch of the Pioneer Higher Skills Centre on Friday, a new learning facility dedicated to higher skills and higher education.

The event marked the official opening of the college’s latest building which originally opened to students in November 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic meant that the college had been unable to celebrate the opening with stakeholders and the local community until last week, with notable attendees including Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, Council Leader Cllr Shabir Pandor and Nigel Patrick, Mayor of Kirklees.

The building was opened with a plaque unveiling from Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, speeches and slideshow to show the transformation of the former Co-operative building. Cllr Nigel Patrick, Mayor of Kirklees was also presented with the Dewsbury Townscape Heritage Initiative plaque to commemorate the completion of the restoration and regeneration project.

Guests were led on tours of the building and visited the Gormley art exhibition which featured work from the Schools’ Engagement project. Working in collaboration with local schools, the college invited three local artists to work with students to respond to sculpture as a form of making and to explore the different ways in which artists work across the artform.

The project was inspired by the installation of Sir Antony Gormley’s sculpture ‘WORK’ which sits on the rooftop of Pioneer Higher Skills Centre and was the first piece commissioned in the Dewsbury Public Art Plan: Creative Town as part of the wider Dewsbury Blueprint.

Palvinder Singh, Principal and Chief Executive at Kirklees College said:

“Pioneer House is a well-known landmark in Dewsbury which many people from in and around the area have very fond memories of visiting, perhaps to the ballroom, the Snooker Hall, or Roberto’s restaurant. Now we have begun the latest chapter in the life of Pioneer House in converting it into a higher skills training centre.

Our aim has been to respect and celebrate the great history of the building, and of the area, whilst providing the most up-to-date resources for our students. Although the project has taken longer than we hoped due to delays, namely the Covid-19 pandemic, the building is now here to stay and will be for future generations.”

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire added:

“I am honoured to have been welcomed to the formal opening of the new Pioneer Higher Skills Centre in Dewsbury. This fantastic state-of-the-art facility will allow thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds to not only develop their skills but to also gain new skills which will open them up to new and exciting career opportunities.

As a Combined Authority, our work in this area is underpinned by the need to close skills gaps and ensure local people leave education with the skills needed by local employers. The Pioneer Higher Skills Centre will provide jobs and training opportunities for local residents and will contribute to making Dewsbury an attractive place to work, learn and invest.”

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