CONSTRUCTION has started on a new £3.5 million training centre that could attract 5,000 people to Clydebank each year.

Dignitaries took the ceremonial first shovel even as building work began behind them on the waterfront location near the Golden Jubilee.

The new centre, the first of its kind in central and southern Scotland, will open by autumn and provide mandatory and safety training courses for the marine and offshore oil and gas industries.

It will include classrooms, training pool, HUET (Helicopter Underwater Escape Training) module, and a full fire training ground including a training stack and helideck to meet top industry standards.

The Clyde Group said the centre for its Clyde Training Solutions division will create around 30 jobs on top of regular visitors for training.

Joyce Downie, Clyde Group Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to start work on our new training centre, located right in the heart of Scotland’s shipbuilding and maritime heritage. We have seen significant demand for a training centre here in the central belt and, once complete, we will be able to offer a comprehensive range of courses under one roof.

“The jobs created will range from training assistants, customer care to quality control. We also aim to source many of the elements for running the centre from the local area.

“On completion the centre hopes to welcome more than 5,000 delegates a year and with this will come the economic benefits as they visit and stay in and around Clydebank.”

West Dunbartonshire Councillor Patrick McGlinchey, convener of infrastructure, regeneration and economic development, said: “It is pleasing that the town’s maritime legacy lives on, firstly with ship management company Northern Marine Group and now the arrival of Clyde Group subsidiary; Clyde Training Solutions.

“This major development also welcomes the oil and gas industry to Clydebank and offers a first-class accessible service to industry workers living in Scotland’s Central Belt and Southern regions.”

He added that the training centre could make a hotel at the Queen’s Quay development more viable and help ensure more money is spent in the town.

Councillor Gail Casey said: “This is fantastic news for the Waterfront Ward and for Clydebank. It is the second time in two weeks I’ve been at an opening of a new company so let’s hope Clydebank is on the up.

“I’m sure it will bring people from far and wide.”

On completion the centre will be able to deliver courses from the Standards of Training Certification and Watch keeping (STCW) accredited by Marine Coastguard Agency (MCA).

Offshore Petroleum Industry Training Organisation (OPITO) accreditation for a number of courses from the facility will also be sought.