“C’EST classe!” That was the verdict of one of the French students dining at West Notts College’s brand new training facility.
The students, who all came from Alsace, had gathered in the college’s fine dining restaurant, Refined - and they said the experience was certainly better than grabbing a quick sandwich.
The restaurant is one of a range of training facilities and commercial enterprises at the £11 million centre at the college’s Derby Road campus in Mansfield, which opened its doors to the public last month.
Set over three floors, the distinctive black-and-red tiled is home to the college’s lifestyle academy, which is made up of the hair, beauty, complementary therapies, hospitality and catering departments as well as a health and social care and A-Levels provision.
The commercial facilities are open to the public so students can experience working with customers while honing their technical skills at the building’s four training salons and professional kitchen.
At Revive, which includes salons, a nail bar and spa, advanced students are able to practice alongside expert stylists.
The restaurant gives professional cookery and hospitality students the opportunity to work with experienced chefs and front-of-house staff to get a taste of the industry.
“It’s amazing,” says beauty therapy student Gemma Ingles, who travels to the college from Kirton.
“It is so good compared to the other salon (at Regent Street in Mansfield). It’s nice having brand new stuff and it’s more professional.
“We’re having proper paying clients.”
Gemma (16) also said that she enjoys being based at the Derby Road site.
“You feel part of the college,” she added.
Her comments were echoed by health and social care student Jamie Allen.
The 18-year-old, who lives in Mansfield, said: “It’s a lot better. You’re more motivated to learn. Having computers on site is really helpful.”
Meanwhile, the college’s 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.
“These inspirational new facilities provide a 21st Century learning experience that prepares young people for employment and higher-level study, along with opportunities to grow our apprenticeship provision.
“At the same time, Mansfield is benefitting from new hair, beauty, spa and fine-dining facilities that rival many high-end professional establishments.”
The building forms part of a £40m investment in the college’s estate across Mansfield and Ashfield and the investment has been praised by business leaders.
George Cowcher, who is chief executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This fantastic new facility represents a major investment in the skills and development of the future workforce of Mansfield and its surrounding areas.
“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.
“Equipping young people with the skills, qualifications and vocational experience that local businesses need is vital to move our economy forward and enable employers to create the jobs and growth needed to secure and sustain the UK’s economic recovery.”
College bosses say that the phase in the transformation of the Derby Road campus also includes converting a workshop into teaching space for the visual arts curriculum and re-cladding the landmark six-storey tower and other buildings to rejuvenate the site’s visual appearance.
To see our two-page photo spread see today’s Mansfield and Ashfield Chad.