ON THURSDAY, October 5, the secretary of state for Wales David TC Davies visited the former Monwel Hankinson factory, Ebbw Vale to see first-hand the future High Value Engineering (HiVE) facility.

Mr Davies, along with contractors ISG, Blaenau Gwent County Councillor John Morgan, Blaenau Gwent MS Alun Davies, and Coleg Gwent vice principal Nikki Gamlin, toured the site where the construction of a new multi-million-pound high-tech education facility is under way.

The new 21,808-square-foot facility will offer high-tech training and education for young people and businesses in robotics, and advanced manufacturing in fields such as automotive, aerospace, and information technology.

In partnership with Coleg Gwent, and industry partners, Blaenau Gwent County Council secured £9 million from the UK Government’s Levelling Up Fund and £3.9 million from the Welsh Government’s Tech Valleys programme to bring the redundant factory building back into use, and to promote regeneration within the local community supporting the aims of the Levelling Up Initiative.

The Welsh secretary was briefed on the function of HiVE, which provides teaching spaces for up to 600 students, including classrooms, study areas, and workshop spaces.

Located close to Ebbw Vale town centre and the Coleg Gwent Blaenau Gwent Learning Zone, the facility will be available to all residents across Wales as well as students at Coleg Gwent studying engineering-based courses.

The space will be kitted out with state-of-the-art robotics and manufacturing equipment including CNC machinery, metal 3D printing, augmented reality, CAD/CAM, virtual reality, autonomous driving, drones and automotive vehicle technology.

Students will be able to access HiVE from Autumn 2024.

Coleg Gwent Vice Principal Nicola Gamlin said: “As the demand for STEM knowledge and skills continues to increase in the local economy, Coleg Gwent's goal is to educate future workers in a specialised facility, surrounded by innovative technology that reflects industry practices. Our ambition is to equip learners with the necessary tools to meet the demands of the workforce of the future.”

Secretary of State for Wales, David TC Davies said: “It is fantastic to see funding from the UK Government and our partners being invested in providing such a great facility to train young people and enable them to find well paid, skilled work.

“This project is at the heart of our ambition for Levelling Up in Wales, providing opportunities for the future and spreading prosperity.”