The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership is backing exciting expansion plans at South Staffordshire College that will provide further exceptional, state-of-the-art facilities for their learners.
The AgriSTEM Academy, will be based at the heart of the Collegeâ€™s stunning 180 hectare Rodbaston Estate and will see a multi-million pound refurbishment to the former Granary buildings plus extensive new buildings to provide world-class learning spaces.
The Academy scheme is the result of the Collegeâ€™s successful bid for funding from the Stoke and Staffordshire LEP. Subject to gaining planning permission, Â it is due to open in 2016 and will cost over Â£5.4 million, over two-thirds of which will come from the LEP.
The Academy will provide cutting-edge learning facilities that will have a huge impact on the scale and quality of industry relevant training for the Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering (AME) and the Agricultural Engineering and Technology (AgriTech) sectors. It will house the Collegeâ€™s second AME hub which will link with the developing Staffordshire wide network to provide industry with the high level skilled personnel they need. It will also mean that South Staffordshire College will have Agricultural Engineering and Automotive /Hybrid Engineering workshops and an AgriTech precision farming simulation Lab.
Learners will also benefit from an Advanced Mechatronics Lab which will simulate an industry standard manufacturing environment, an agricultural and construction vehicle simulator, CAD/CAM teaching spaces, multi-occupation construction areas, renewable energies workshops and gas and hot water assessment areas. There will also be a host of inspiring, digitally enabled learning, independent study and collaboration spaces, to further enhance their learning.
South Staffordshire College Chief Executive Principal Graham Morley says â€œWeâ€™re absolutely thrilled to be embarking on another fantastic development project here at South Staffordshire College. As one of the leading education and training providers in the region, the new AgriSTEM Academy will allow us to make a significant contribution to both advanced manufacturing and precision farming training in Staffordshire and will form one of the six spokes of the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME) hub that are being implemented by Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). By providing exceptional learning facilities and practical training that is unavailable anywhere else in Staffordshire, we will be even better positioned to help aspiring rural and engineering entrepreneurs gain the high level skills that employers demand.
The success of our bid is testament to the hard work and commitment shown by our staff and Iâ€™d like to thank them and the Stoke on Trent & Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) for their continued support in making the AgriSTEM Academy a reality.â€
Chairman of the Stoke and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, David Frost says â€œWe are delighted to support this exciting new venture at South Staffordshire College. It will make a very significant contribution to putting the county at the forefront of skills development in manufacturing and agricultural technology. It is also a great example of how we can work together to grow Staffordshireâ€™s strong agricultural sector and equip it to take full advantage of 21st century opportunities.â€
A key milestone in South Staffordshire Collegeâ€™s history, the AgriSTEM Academy announcementÂ comes at the time that the Prime Minister has announced Government plans to support British farmers and boost productivity by growing food and farming exports by more than Â£7 billion. In his announcement, delivered at the Royal Welsh Show in Powys on 23rd July, Mr Cameron said â€œFarming and food production are a fundamental part of our rural economy. As a one nation government, we will keep on backing British farmersâ€¦â€
The development also comes just months after the launch of a multitude of other fantastic developments at the College, including the first Tamworth spoke of the AME Hub and the â€˜Futures@SSCâ€™ facility at Rodbaston.
The Tamworth spoke of the AME hub opened itâ€™s doors in response to growing demand for skilled workers in the region. The Tamworth spoke helps businesses fill skills gaps and provides young people with a practical route into their chosen career by delivering exceptional construction, electrical installation, motor vehicle and engineering provision.
The Â£1.4m â€˜Futures@SSCâ€™ development, which formally opened just last month, provides access to specialist education and training for young people with complex learning needs. The purpose built development is fully equipped to help every learner realise their full potential in a safe and secure learning environment and boasts exceptional facilities including a sensory space, independent skills suite, preparation for work area and giant interactive tablet computer.