A COLLEGE has been handed a £4m boost to build a new centre to train youngsters in core engineering skills.
Abingdon & Witney College was given the cash through Oxfordshire’s Local Enterprise Parternship (LEP) and the Oxfordshire Growth Deal announced earlier this month.
It will allow the college to build the Advanced Engineering and Technology Skills Centre at its Abingdon campus, in Wootton Road.
The centre will focus on science, technology, engineering and manufacturing (STEM) subject areas – all areas which have been a priority for the Government.
College principal Teresa Kelly said: “We are delighted to be able to confirm that we have been awarded £4m of funding through the new Growth Deal.
“Two years ago we opened our new motor vehicle engineering facility, which has since seen record numbers of enrolments on full-time and apprenticeship courses and allowed us to develop our brand new level three motor vehicle apprenticeship.
“This funding will allow us to adopt the same innovative approach to all STEM training.
“We are very much looking forward to working with local employers and building on existing partnerships to develop a truly cutting-edge STEM facility for Oxfordshire.”
The centre will provide engineering technician skills, extending into engineering design, computing/IT and lab skills and aims to become a resource for STEM employers.
It will offer training at level 3, 4 and 5 and will provide a range of short courses, full and part-time diplomas plus HNCs, HNDs and Foundation Degrees.
Abingdon Town Council leader Sandy Lovatt said the funding boost was “excellent news” and would make school leavers more employable to hi-tech businesses in the Science Vale area – including those at Culham and Harwell scientific campuses.
He said: “Abingdon is at the heart of Science Vale, so anything that contributes to that and provides skills that employers will need is great. Science Vale is designed to attract hi-tech employers into the area and we are talking about everything from people trying to apply technology to creating new technology in biosciences, electronics and physics.”
The funding came as part of the £108m Growth Deal package for Oxfordshire from the Government.
A further £1m of funding has since been announced to boost transport links betwen major employment sites in southern Oxfordshire.
Improvements to the cycle network will be introduced over the coming year between Didcot Parkway railway station, Harwell Oxford and Milton Park business park.