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‘Topping Out’ Latest STEM Centre Milestone
The building of City College Plymouth’s new Regional Centre of Excellence for STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) has reached its next significant milestone – just as the Government publishes its Industrial Strategy to deliver a high-skilled, competitive economy that will drive growth across the UK.
A strong skills offer forms a key component of the green paper, and confirms that a robust skills strategy is required to respond to the needs of industry while helping to equip learners with the skills in demand from employers. Reforms to technical education will help to address regional skills imbalances, making sure shortages in STEM and higher level skills are addressed.
With STEM a local and national priority for addressing current and future skills shortages, the College’s new Centre will focus on the City’s priority sectors relating to STEM, to provide growth and investment in skills development, connectivity and innovation. This will include support for job creation, particularly in high-growth sectors, to drive productivity and promote enterprise.
Chris Garcia, Chief Executive of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP), fixed the final screw to the highest point of the building in a ‘Topping Out’ ceremony at the College.
The £13million state-of-the-art facility is being funded by HotSW LEP, Plymouth City Council and the Regional Growth Fund, and has seen more than 200 employers involved in shaping its development. The Centre will provide a flexible learning environment that simulates ‘real work’ scenarios with industry-standard workshops, laboratories and studios. It will be equipped with high-tech resources to support a broader and more relevant STEM curriculum.
“Seeing the Centre of Excellence for STEM reach its full height is very rewarding and takes the project another step closer to completion,” said Phil Davies, City College Principal and Chief Executive. “Building the Centre is our, and our funders’, direct response to the skills needs of local STEM-related industries. Our team’s commitment is to train and develop the young people and adults required by our region’s employers and the economy.
“As set out in the Industrial Strategy, getting technical education right is critical for the economy; it is the only way to address our growing productivity and skills gaps and offers a solution not only to the ever-changing needs of industry, but also for the people for whom a qualification for in-demand skills will be a lifeline into work.
“Therefore, business involvement is absolutely fundamental to our Centre’s success and we have been working with a range of employers, from large internationals to small local enterprises, as well as business groups and employer-representing organisations. We want to stimulate interest in STEM subjects and provide support for higher-paid STEM jobs, while at the same time encourage students to remain and develop their careers in the local workforce. Our vision for the Centre is to enable more cross-curriculum learning that embeds enterprise, employability and STEM into everything we do.”
Chris Garcia, Chief Executive, HotSW LEP, said: “I am delighted to see the Regional Centre of Excellence for STEM progressing well. Addressing the skills gap and enabling sustainable employment is a priority for HotSW LEP. This project, partly funded by the first round of our Growth Deal, is a real asset to the area and I am very positive about its ability to maximise economic growth.”
Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Ian Bowyer, said: “The Regional Centre of Excellence for STEM is integral to Plymouth’s Local Economic Strategy and its Plan for Employment and Skills. Both highlight the need to develop the STEM-related skills to support job creation in high-growth sectors and drive the City’s productivity. It will help to ensure Britain’s ‘Ocean City’ is recognised as a world leader in STEM development.”
Richard Stevens, Chairman of Devon Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of Plymouth Growth Board and Managing Director of Plymouth Citybus, said: “We are an innovative region with a diverse range of businesses, encompassing industries from digital and creative to marine and manufacturing. The Regional Centre of Excellence for STEM is truly ground-breaking in the way training and enterprise are coming together to focus on the skills and employment needs of the area.”
Work on the Centre, which is being built by Kier, started in February last year and is due to be completed in autumn 2017. With the full height of the five-story building now reached, work is underway developing the leading edge facilities inside.