A £2.5m investment in skills training to help create the workforce of the future has been unveiled by the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.
The cash will be used by colleges across Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin, to develop hi-tech training and education as part of a major drive to boost the region’s skills base.
Herefordshire and Ludlow College, Telford College, the Shrewsbury Colleges Group, North Shropshire College and Derwen College at Oswestry, will all receive funding for a series of innovative new training programmes.
Professor Ian Oakes, Marches LEP board member, said the funding – under the LEP’s Investing in our Future Workforce project – would ensure the region was equipped with the cutting-edge skills needed in the modern economy.
It will help create more than 1,500 new apprentices and 4,100 short courses, with the colleges working with up to 360 employers to make sure skills delivery is meeting the needs of both business and education.
“It is absolutely vital that this region has the necessary skills and training to enable it to thrive and prosper in this fast-changing world and we have been working with our partners in education and industry to develop a strategy to deliver just that.
“This funding will help develop a wide-ranging programme of courses which will target the gaps in existing provision. It will make sure that people in work can update their skills and our youngsters leave education fully-equipped to play their part in developing a vibrant and thriving regional economy.”
Herefordshire and Ludlow College will receive more than £1m to develop its Holme Lacy Campus to form a state-of-the-art Rural Enterprise Centre incorporating start-up business incubator units.
Telford College has received more than half a million pounds for a project which will see the development and installation of virtual reality and augmented reality technology in multi-media suites at the college, allowing specialised hi-tech 3D education and training to be delivered.
More than £400,000 has been made available to North Shropshire College for investment in its IT infrastructure and learning resources, whilst Derwen College has received nearly £315,000 to develop its digital resources and work with employers to help support employees with different abilities.
Shrewsbury Colleges group has received over £200,000 to bring the latest technological advances to its teaching of construction, built environment and digital media at both apprenticeship and HE levels.
Funding for the project was awarded to the Marches LEP via its Growth Deal with Government.
Growth Deals were awarded to LEPs through a competitive bidding process to fund the delivery of projects to boost the local economy.
Between 2012 and 2037, the Marches LEP will help create 20,000 higher skilled jobs as it tackles the challenge of an ageing workforce and a growing retired population.