Wiltshire College & University Centre (WCUC) has helped to win investment for the Swindon and Wiltshire region to address local skills gaps through the Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF).
Nationwide, colleges will receive a share of £165million to help transform skills training specifically aligned to the priority sectors identified by local employers in their Local Skills Improvement Plans (LSIP).
Across the region, employers identified skills including digital, construction and engineering as priorities in the Swindon and Wiltshire LSIP, a regional review led by Business West in recent years. WCUC were appointed as the lead partner for the Swindon and Wiltshire LSIF and have secured £2.5million worth of funding for the region, to be shared with New College Swindon.
The investment will allow WCUC to launch innovative projects at the Lackham and Trowbridge campuses, focusing on green construction and digital technologies respectively. This will allow local businesses to continue to tap into the skilled workforce they need to thrive, while helping more people to secure good jobs closer to home.
Iain Hatt, Principal and CEO of Wiltshire College & University Centre, said: “We are delighted to be leading on the Local Skills Improvement Fund for Swindon and Wiltshire. The funding provided will support the upgrade of facilities in a number of important areas identified within the Local Skills Improvement Plan, such as construction and digital.
“This investment will see the creation of an Eco House at our Lackham campus and a digital skills centre at our Trowbridge campus. These projects will benefit our current and future students, and also lead to the development of important learning resources for businesses and organisations across the county in the construction and digital sectors as they look to upskill their workforces.”
The digitalisation project at the Trowbridge campus, known as Tech Trowbridge, will provide an advanced environment for the development and promotion of digital technology skills. The project will be split across two main areas, including the creation of a multi-purpose venue capable of hosting theatre performances and Esports competitions. The venue will have live broadcast and streaming capabilities, including a video wall display to provide interactive learning.
The second area will see the creation of a large flexible workspace across two floors, featuring collaborative and private state-of-the-art workstations to provide students and businesses with access to the latest digital resources. The project will promote the benefits of digital technology to businesses across Swindon and Wiltshire, ensuring digital skills are accessible to all and support them to embrace advancing technologies.
At Lackham, the Eco House project will involve the renovation of a three-bedroom detached cottage situated within the campus to energy efficiency in line with net zero standards. Renovations will include external wall insulation, an air source heat pump, solar panels and battery storage, and all work will be conducted in line with the heritage significance of the Lackham estate.
The Eco House project has been developed in collaboration with local employers and, once completed, will provide an accessible centre for individuals, students, building services engineers and employers to upskill in renewable technology.
Matt Tudge, Head of Skills Planning for Business West, said: “Wiltshire College & University Centre collaborated with us as part of the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP), ensuring that providers in the region are responding to employer’s needs through the Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF) application. We are encouraged to see the excellent alignment in response to the region’s needs. We are looking forward to continuing to work together to address workforce needs and ensure that learners are equipped for the future.”
Work on the Tech Trowbridge and Lackham Eco House projects is due to begin shortly and will be completed by September 2024.
PICTURES: Digital concept images of the proposed Eco House and Tech Trowbridge projects at Wiltshire College & University Centre’s Lackham and Trowbridge campuses, which will be funded through the Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF)