An agreement has been signed to push on with the Construction Wales Innovation Centre (CWIC), which will have its headquarters at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David's (UWTSD) new £300 million Swansea Waterfront Innovation Quarter at SA1.
The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and a consortium led by UWTSD are behind the £6.5 million venture, which will also comprise smaller sites at colleges across Wales, including Coleg Sir Gar.
The idea is to create state-of-the-art facilities and offer top-class training for construction companies as well as aspiring and current tradesmen.
CWIC construction is due to begin towards the end of this year, with opening targeted to coincide with the university's new waterfront campus in September 2018. The aim is to train 1,100 people per year.
The CWIC set-up will allow new concepts in construction training to be trialled, with a "rapid construction zone" at its headquarters to test things like structural performance. It will also be the first of its kind in Britain to provide applied research, training and consultancy through one partnership.
"This landmark partnership will ensure we have the right skills in place to meet our industry's current and future needs," said Mark Bodger, strategic partnership director for CITB Wales. "This exciting new centre will be a major step forward for the construction industry in Wales and help it become a leader in digital and modern construction and the repair of traditional buildings and heritage sites."
UWTSD vice-chancellor Professor Medwin Hughes told the Post he hoped to see more collaborations of this sort as the new campus grew, and anticipated further announcements in the coming months.
"The vision for the Swansea Waterfront Innovation Quarter is to create a neighbourhood where the university and its partners can work with industry to exploit opportunities that will not only benefit the region but will also deliver those benefits to the rest of Wales," he said. "This development is key to us achieving that vision."
Gerald Naylor, UWTSD project director, said: "We are looking forward to working with the CITB to develop a new model for delivering skills to the construction sector in Wales and beyond."
Donna Griffiths, partnerships manager at CITB, added: "The CWIC will, for the first time, deliver an integrated career pathway between craft, trade and professional construction occupations across the whole of Wales."
IF you thought a career in the construction industry just involved bricklaying, joinery and roofing, think again.
How about graphic design, building information modelling, cost consultancy, or more traditional skills like stonemasonry?
Mark Bodger, strategic partnership director at the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) Wales, said there were many opportunities for young people in the public and private sector these days.
There was also plenty of scope, he said, for construction workers to learn new skills.
Building information modelling, known as Bim, allows everyone involved in a building's construction to understand it through the use of a digital model.
Bim helps avoid clashes during construction and also informs the contractor in charge of maintenance, for example if a door handle breaks, what type of replacement handle to take without having to go to the building first to have a look.
Mr Bodger said this saved taxpayers' cash when managing and maintaining buildings like schools and hospitals.
Another fertile area of construction research and development was lowering energy use, and scaling those techniques up to mainstream house-building.
Large-scale building projects in Swansea include the ongoing 21st Century Schools programme, while house-builders will always need the right staff.
Wales needs an additional 14,000 homes per year up to 2020 to meet demand, according to the Federation of Master Builders.