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Education centre to focus on innovation skills

Posted onPosted on 1st Feb

A major new project to create a highly-skilled workforce in emerging technologies will go ahead in Mansfield after a funding boost.

Mansfield District Council has allocated £4.3m from its £12.3m Towns Fund pot to the Future Tech Skills and Knowledge Exchange.

The £8.5m education, skills and business development project will create new teaching and innovation space at the Chesterfield Road Campus of West Nottinghamshire College, which aims to address high-value employment opportunities.

The state-of-the-art education facility will deliver qualifications at level 3 and above, with a strong focus on innovation and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.

Andrew Cropley, principal and chief executive of the college, said: “I am delighted we’ve reached this important milestone of securing the remaining funding needed to progress with this exciting scheme.

“The exchange will be hugely important in creating a highly-skilled workforce in priority sectors.

“It will provide a space where education and business can work together on projects that maximise the benefits of emerging technologies that will be so critical to Mansfield’s economic prosperity.

“Crucially, it will enable students to gain the skills and knowledge to secure well-paid employment, while helping businesses to grow their talent pool and adopt the new technology that will make them more competitive and profitable.”

Mayor Andy Abrahams added: “This partnership with the college will see one of the biggest expansions in educational and skills provision in the district for decades.

“It will aim to address a consistent labour shortage issue that local employers have in this area — finding workers with the right level and type of technological skills required in the 21st Century.

“Additionally, it will encourage new employers to start up or come to Mansfield, knowing that high level, industry-relevant skills are being developed right here.

“This forms a key part of the council Aspiration’s priorities for the district, which are centred on our ambition for Mansfield to be a place where people can achieve and succeed.

“We want students to gain the kind of qualifications in Mansfield that enable them to gain good, well paid jobs here, and not feel that they have to leave the area to do well in life.

“I’d also stress that this project is seeking the active involvement of local businesses. The world of business is constantly changing and evolving.

“The new facility will facilitate collaboration between high-achieving students, aspirational local businesses, and the expertise in our further and higher education partners.”

The Future Tech Skills and Knowledge Exchange will offer opportunities for businesses to benefit from the technological expertise of both the college and Nottingham Trent University (NTU), and their networks of industrial partnerships.

It will also provide a space where students of the college and NTU will work collaboratively with businesses on projects to support greater use of evolving technology.

The centre will be a focal delivery point for T-Levels — new qualifications developed in collaboration with employers — being introduced by the college in September 2024, and will incorporate facilities to support construction, engineering and digital technologies.

It will also serve as a knowledge-exchange between the college, NTU, and employers — giving businesses a greater understanding of future trends and the opportunities technology will bring, plus support with product and process innovation.

The centre will allow students to gain significant work experience with local businesses on technology-driven projects, giving them a valuable insight into how businesses work and support their progression to higher education or employment.

Meanwhile, businesses will gain access to support and a future workforce, helping them improve their competitiveness and efficiency through the use of new technology.

The centre will promote the adoption of new technologies through a number of business engagement events.

Other funding for the £8.86m facility is being met by £3.827m from the Education and Skills Funding Agency, as part of the second phase of its Further Education Capital Transformation Fund, and £734,000 from the college and NTU.

It is hoped on-site works will start in July, ready for a planned opening date of September 2024.