Published: June 16, 2020 | Updated: June 16, 2020

Dorset LEP invests over £700,000 in college upgrade projects in a bid to close skills gap

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Dorset LEP is investing £712,800 in three facility upgrade projects at Bournemouth & Poole College in an effort to close Dorset’s skill gap.

New construction, design and digital media facilities will be introduced.

All three are considered key areas in which Dorset needs to skill the future workforce to boost the local economy.

Construction, engineering and digital hubs will be created to focus on employability and enterprise skills, ensuring students are work-ready before they enter industry.

The announcement comes just a day after Dorset Biz News reported the College had been ranked 11th – out of 162 colleges nationwide – in apprenticeship achievement tables.

Jim Stewart, Dorset LEP Chair, pictured left, said: “We are delighted to be able to allocate this government Local Growth Fund allocation to Bournemouth & Poole College.

“These new facilities and equipment will help the College meet the local skill gaps that have been identified by local employers and shown in the results of our Dorset 2020 Employer Skills Survey.

“These three projects will help young people more easily find work and stay in the area, which will boost Dorset’s economy.

“Dorset LEP are committed to investing in local young people and unlocking the area’s talent, making Dorset not only a great place to learn but to also work.”

Diane Grannell, Principal and Chief Executive of Bournemouth & Poole College, pictured right, said: “We are very thankful to Dorset LEP for this investment.

“The new facilities and equipment mean our students can learn in more modern working environments with state-of-the-art equipment.

“This will increase their employability and progression into relevant industries, improving business productivity.”

The Construction and Engineering Project will see an existing workshop refurbished to further increase construction and engineering teaching capabilities for the College’s North Road campus.

It has received £610,000 of funding to place all construction wet trades onto one campus while upgrading engineering equipment to extend the level of training offered.

As an example, investment into the engineering and electronics curriculum will see the introduction of virtual welding systems.

Bringing together plastering, painting, decorating and brickwork will enable the College to increase the number of courses it offers and support the delivery of new T-levels.

Apprentices will acquire an enhanced range of skills in line with the requirements of the majority of Dorset employers, which is expected to impact positively on productivity within local businesses.

It is expected to increase the number of employers the College will work with, subsequently increasing the future number of local apprenticeships.

The project started in February and aims to be completed by this November.

Dorset LEP has also awarded £85,928 so the College can open a Digital and Enterprise Innovation Hub at both its campuses.

The two new hubs, expected to be open to students from this October, will focus on developing employability and enterprise skills for more than 4,000 full-time students and apprentices per year.

As a result, Dorset can expect more productive employees from the onset of employment, reducing the training and mentoring time required

Finally, a further £16,800 of funding will contribute towards the purchase of graphic pen-to-screen tablets for the College’s Digital Design students.

These, in-line-with-industry standard tablets, will improve the skills of 256 students every year.

The equipment is expected to be available for student use from this October.

Five years ago Bournemouth and Poole was identified as having the fastest growing technology cluster in the UK.

In 2017 a report by Tech City UK cited Dorset as having the highest concentration of high growth digital technology businesses in the country.

By upgrading the offering of a key college in the most populated area in Dorset, Dorset LEP hopes to ensure the county’s future of cutting-edge skills in engineering, construction and digital design.