24th April 2018
Work has started on the construction of the much anticipated Hi-Tech and Digital Centre at South Devon College, on Long Road, Paignton. The £17m leading edge project will provide a visionary centre for education and training to support the growing hi-tech manufacturing, digital and creative sectors in Torbay and surrounding area. Due to open in September 2019 providing a new location for the already thriving departments at the College, this is phase 1 of a 15 year masterplan for the College. Funding to make this possible has been secured from a number of organisations including; the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP), Higher Education Funding Council for Education (HEFCE), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Garfield Weston Foundation, South Devon College, and private investors. It is being constructed by Midas Construction, part of the Midas Group.
Stakeholders for the brand new Hi-Tech and Digital Centre gathered to mark the very special Groundbreaking Ceremony on Friday 20th April, celebrating the formal start of the construction of the project. Speeches from MP for Torbay Kevin Foster, Elected Mayor for Torbay Gordon Oliver and Chief Operating Officer for the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) Eifion Jones, reflected on the incredible investment happening in the Bay in the Hi-Tech and Digital sectors, paying tribute to South Devon College Principal Stephen Criddle OBE for his excellent leadership and development of apprenticeships in the sector. The passion and dedication from all stakeholders to get this project off the ground was evident, and the Centre will complement the expanding investment from Europe, Japan and America in the local area. Students Nikita Coombes, Joel Stoddard- Turvey, Ben Baber-Hale and Virag-Angyalka Kiss were invited to formally break the ground, signifying the beginning of this momentous opportunity for young people to have these incredible facilities available to them for many years to come.
The project has been developed in consultation with over 40 local and regional businesses and the Centre will provide individuals with the skills that employers need to support their business growth in a range of important local hi-tech businesses such as; electronics, lasers, fibre, satellite and communications, aerospace, marine and medical. The offer will also extend to creative industries including gaming, app design, digital design, film and digital media, smart clothing and textiles and many others.
By developing resources with many leading companies in their field, the Hi-Tech and Digital Centre will expose future generations of engineers and technologists to cutting edge technology, and inspire the local community with this rapidly growing sector. The interior layout has been designed carefully to follow leading principles in future proofing an outstanding teaching and learning environment. Great emphasis is being placed on flexibility of space, the importance and need for social and collaborative study and innovation areas and layouts of rooms which will mirror workplace processes and practice. This will include dedicated business workspace consisting of 15 individual Business Units plus 2 large open plan Collaboration Zones.
Laurence Frewin, Vice Principal and Deputy Chief Executive at the College said: “This exciting project is already enabling the College to develop a new and flexible educational offer that is both distinctive and appealing to a wider range of both technically and creatively orientated young people. In turn, this will help to fill the skills gap of local employers, including in the Digital and Hi-Tech sectors, who provide sustainable jobs for local students. Our students will have even more opportunities to study at higher levels to gain a foundation or honours degree or learn while they earn with a higher or degree apprenticeship. At South Devon College, we are continuously developing and improving new and existing courses and pathways to jobs at all levels and this will provide us with even more possibilities for the future, especially as the College is in the final stages of seeking approval to be able to award its own foundation degrees.”
Kevin Foster MP for Torbay said: “I am delighted to attend the Groundbreaking event for the new Hi-Tech and Digital Centre at South Devon College. This major investment is excellent news for my constituents in Torbay, and the wider area. The high quality training it will provide will not only benefit local students before they enter a competitive jobs market, but will also attract new businesses to our area who will see that we are able to provide them with highly skilled employees.”
Torbay’s Elected Mayor Gordon Oliver said: “Having been on the board of the HotSW LEP at the time of the bid, I am thrilled that South Devon College was successful and work is now starting on the Hi-Tech and Digital Centre. The job market is rapidly changing and the hi-tech area will be the future employer for many of today’s young people so this new centre will give Torbay an advantage in attracting new and keeping existing businesses here with well paid, cutting edge jobs for local residents.”
Eifion Jones, Chief Operating Officer of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) said: “I am delighted to see the start on site of yet another one of our Growth Deal funded projects; and we’ve invested £8.13m in this innovative new facility so we are confident that it will make a real difference to the success and productivity of the area. The LEP is committed to investing in projects that help to raise skills for local people, enabling them to take up the higher-value careers that are taking off here in Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay.”
Andy McAdam, Midas Divisional Director for Somerset; Devon and Cornwall, said: “This is a hugely exciting and forward-looking project, which is bringing together partners from across the South West and as a regional business with strong links locally, Midas is pleased to be an integral part of the project team and to be celebrating the start of work on site.”
Local Growth Minister, Jake Berry, said: “With over £8.3m of Government’s Growth Deal Funding invested in this state-of-the-art Hi-Tech and Digital Centre, Government is throwing its full weight behind projects which equip the next generation with the education, skills and training to compete in a globally competitive economy. Offering training in a wide variety of different disciplines and learning areas, this centre will support local employers across multiple sectors looking for new recruits with specialist skill while also attracting new businesses to the region. Through the grass-roots work of our Local Enterprise Partnerships and Government’s Growth Deal Funding, we will continue to build a high-skilled economy which is fit for the future.”
Sponsorship opportunities to support the development of the Hi-Tech and Digital Centre are available and we would be delighted to talk to you about how you can be involved in this exciting project. For further information please contact Assistant Principal Steve Caunter on 01803 540632 or [email protected] for more information.