Lancashire ramps up vocational skills and training provision with new wave of investment

Four new further, higher and adult education centres set to open across county in next two months as a result of £13.25m Growth Deal funding

Over 4,000 new training and apprenticeship places to be created across a range of hi-tech and high-demand employment sectors

Lancashire is soon set to benefit from over £13m of new skills investment which will create over 4,000 new training places across the county in range of different sectors. Over the next two months four brand new education facilities will open as part of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP) wider £27m technical and vocational skills Growth Deal funding programme.

The new facilities include the Lancashire Energy HQ in Blackpool, the first of its kind in the UK, which is set be the country’s leading training  centre for the renewable, oil and gas energy sectors; the Food and Farming Innovation and Technology (FFIT) Centre at Myerscough College in Preston, which will be the most advanced agricultural training centre in the UK; and the Sentamu Teaching Block at the University of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus, which will specialise in training health and social care students.

In addition, Lancashire Adult Learning (LAL), the county’s adult learning service is due to relocate from Chorley to the newly refurbished premises at Brierfield Mill in Pendle as part of the £32m Northlight regeneration scheme. The new LAL centre will support 22,000 adult learners in Lancashire across 120 community venues.

All of these new colleges, learning amenities, and the relocation of the LAL service, have been kick-started by funding from the Lancashire LEP through the £27m Growth Deal Skills Capital programme which has already helped transform the county’s vocational training provision over the last three years.

Projects which have already benefitted from Growth Deal investments include two advanced manufacturing and aerospace training facilities; a joint project between Lancaster University and BAE in Lancaster and BAE’s Academy for Skills & Knowledge (ASK) at the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone. In addition, the LEP has invested in centres of digital and technology excellence at Accrington and Rossendale College, and at Edge Hill University in Ormskirk.

The LEP has also supported the Science Engineering Innovation Centre (SEIC) at Runshaw College at Chorley, and the Marine Engineering College at Fleetwood Nautical Campus.

Other world-class, flagship projects backed by the LEP include UCLan’s £30m state-of-the-art Engineering Innovation Centre (EIC) in the heart of the Preston, and the Health Innovation Campus at Lancaster University, both of which are due to open in 2019.

Edwin Booth, Chair of the LEP, who last week officially opened two of the four new centres at the University of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus and the Myerscough College FFIT said: “We know we will need more skilled employees across a wide range of industry and sectors if Lancashire is to fulfil its potential at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse, which is why technical training is one of the LEP’s key priorities.

“These new four facilities, which are all set to officially open over the next two months, are clear examples of how our investments continue to generate new opportunities within further, higher and adult learning which are an integral part of our wider £27m Growth Deal Skills Capital skills funding programme which we have been implementing since 2014.”

“Myerscough College’s FFIT and the Energy HQ are particularly significant. The FFIT is the most advanced centre of its kind in the UK, while the Energy HQ is of national importance and will reinforce Lancashire’s position at the forefront of the energy sector in the UK.

“We also have in place a Skills and Employment Strategic Framework, being delivered by the Lancashire Skills Hub, which lays out the county’s plan for delivering the skills we need for growth over the next five years. This framework is fully aligned to the LEP’s overarching Strategic Economic Plan for the county to ensure we train people in the areas where we anticipate growth, and where employer demand will come from.”

Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry MP, who also represents Lancashire’s Rossendale and Darwen constituency, said:  “Job creation and economic growth are at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse and training the next generation to become the highly skilled workforce of the future will be vital to its success. As a proud Lancastrian I am delighted that my home county is establishing itself as a hub of training excellence with £27m of government funding creating nearly 4,000 new vocational training places and over 500 apprenticeships up to 2021.This benefits not just Lancashire’s economy but the long term economic success of the whole UK.”

Dr Michele Lawty-Jones, Director of the Lancashire Skills Hub, said. “We continue to work closely with employers, education providers and government to ensure Lancashire has a pipeline of highly skilled and highly employable workers within many different sectors. This involves not only providing opportunities for young people and graduates, but for older people as well. We are also beginning to see the positive impacts that the LEP’s earlier Growth Deal investments are having across key sectors like aerospace, digital technology, advanced engineering and manufacturing, which is all part of our long-term skills strategy for the county.”   

Combined the four new centres will create 3,890 places for learners and 531 apprenticeships from now until March 2021. They are:

  • The £7.3m Food and Farming Innovation and Technology (FFIT) Centre at Myerscough College, Preston, opened on September 7. The FFIT will lead the development of precision farming within livestock and grassland sectors and encourage the roll out of research and innovation to help transform Lancashire’s agricultural sector, as well as supporting the development of local food production. The FFIT Centre showcases the latest technologies and innovations including equipment which is being installed in the UK for the first time. The FFIT Centre dovetails with the nearby Livestock Innovation Centre and farm to cater for 385 learners and 218 apprentices.
  • The £10.3m Lancashire Energy HQ in Blackpool, opening on October 6. Set to be the UK’s leading college for training workers in the renewable, oil and gas energy sectors, the purpose-built facility is at the heart of the Blackpool Airport Enterprise Zone, leveraging its position close to Lancashire’s world-class cluster of nuclear, oil, gas and renewables companies. Operated by Blackpool and the Fylde College, equipment includes the sector’s largest nuclear and renewables simulator and a full-sized wind turbine. It will cater for 3,003 learners and 205 apprentices.
  • The £8.6m Sentamu Teaching Block at the University of Cumbria’s Lancaster campus, opened on September 5. It will train an additional 443 health and social care students to meet the challenges of an ageing population and rising life expectancy, and the expected creation of over 700 new health and social care jobs in the Lancaster region by 2024.
  • Lancashire Adult Learning (LAL), the county’s adult learning service is transferring its main base to Brierfield Mill in Pendle in September. Part of the £32m Northlight community and leisure regeneration scheme, the new LAL head-quarters will feature a range of new classrooms, teaching zones and conference facilities in addition to being the hub for all of Lancashire’s adult learning provision.

These four projects are the latest in a programme of investment worth £27m in Growth Deal Skills Capital funds, which is supporting the creation of a network of new training centres across Lancashire.

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