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West Nottinghamshire College selected for government’s Strategic Development Fund pilot

Posted: 03 August 2021

West Nottinghamshire College has been selected along with other UK colleges to be part of the government’s new Strategic Development Fund pilot.

The Engineering Innovation Centre is home to the college's new automation and robotics courses
The Engineering Innovation Centre is home to the college's new automation and robotics courses

The Department for Education has revealed the pilot areas for the new Strategic Development Fund, which, together with the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) trailblazers, make up the government’s Skills Accelerator programme. The Skills Accelerator will see £65m being distributed across the UK to encourage providers to collaborate in order to better meet the skills needs of local employers. The multi-million pound fund, first mooted in the Skills for Jobs white paper, went to tender in April.

Endorsed by the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce, West Nottinghamshire College will collaborate with three other colleges on the pilot of the Strategic Development Fund. The other partners are Lincoln College, Chesterfield College, RNN College Group. It will also involve Nottinghamshire careers guidance service – Futures, and Inspire – the cultural organisation delivering services on behalf Nottinghamshire County Council.

The collaboration will focus on engineering and manufacturing with each college taking a lead in a particular specialist area and sees West Nottinghamshire College receive £1,025,000 of the £3,225,000 capital to extend the reach and impact of its specialisation in automation and robotics that the college will be delivering full-time courses to 16-18-olds and bespoke provision for businesses at its dedicated automation and robotics centre in Kirkby-in-Ashfield from September 2021.

West Nottinghamshire College plans to secure a mobile training facility in the shape of an electric vehicle that will be able to visit employer premises across the area to deliver tailored training in new technologies in this sector.

The touring vehicle will also be visiting partner colleges, local schools and community centres to introduce individuals to this developing area of engineering. The investment will be integrated to support businesses across the East Midlands to successfully embrace automation and robotic technologies.

The college will also look to design and deliver professional development and training to staff at each of the other partner colleges. Partner colleges will also seek to provide a similarly expanded offer in additive manufacturing, fluid power and aviation.

West Nottinghamshire College’s principal and chief executive Andrew Cropley said: “I’m thrilled that West Nottinghamshire College has been chosen to work alongside our partner colleges on this pilot. The Strategic Development Fund will help us test so many ideas and training initiatives and help us all to respond to the many local skills and innovation priorities and opportunities.

“To be able to offer communities, young people and employers, new and high-value training to access the rapidly growing opportunities in the automation and robotics arena, raise their aspirations and access exciting and secure future careers is absolutely vital not just in Mansfield and Ashfield, but for all the communities in North Notts and North Derbyshire.

“Access to these funds will help us support businesses to enter new markets, embrace those new technologies and tackle employment and educational deprivation so that our communities improve and prosper in the future. Creating new and mobile, high-quality learning experiences between the four colleges is something we’re really looking forward to supporting.”

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