The flagship project, developed by Nelson and Colne College Group, is being established to help tackle Lancashire’s digital skills shortfall.
It’s one of eight projects in the Nelson Town Deal designed to promote sustainable growth, transform the town and provide new opportunities for local people through the £25 million New Towns Fund investment.
“Helping to push approval for the Academy over the line is the county-wide digital skills gap that has widened at a time when demand among employers for digitally-skilled employees is growing,” explained council leader, Coun. Nadeem Ahmed.
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The Advanced Digital Skills Academy aims to integrate world-class teaching, innovation, and business acumen at Nelson and Colne College and create a new town centre learning spoke for digital skills.
Fionnuala Swann, Nelson and Colne College Campus Centre principal, said: “This project demonstrates the strength of partnerships forged through the Nelson Town Deal and of our shared commitment to upskilling our communities and retaining talent.
“If successful throughout this next phase, the funding will be used to create a college hub for the project, refurbishing parts of the existing college building to create over 100 new teaching spaces with access to state-of-the-art equipment.
“This redevelopment will create a new learning environment to support the delivery of our digital T-Level courses, alongside our wider digital curriculum.
“It will provide access to facilities for all learners wanting to improve their digital skills and there will be 200 high-spec PCs in the Academy.”
Alongside the college hub, a town centre spoke will also be developed, focussing on digital skills for adult learners.
Upskilling and retraining opportunities will be offered at a range of levels from beginners to support improving employability chances, through to higher level courses designed to meet the specific digital skills demands of regional employers.
The spoke element will also include a business space to facilitate interaction between learners and employers as well as a business workspace for start-up businesses.
Stephen Barnes, chair of the Nelson Town Deal Board said: “As the college campus is located outside the town centre, a key objective of the hub and the town centre spoke is to work in tandem, creating a strong connection between the college and the centre of Nelson.
“The new Advanced Digital Skills Academy is also designed to establish a link between local employers and learners as well as supporting a more vibrant town centre.
“Learners and participating businesses will get enormous benefit from this project which will also help to rejuvenate the town centre with increased footfall to support the businesses there,” Stephen added.
The Towns Fund has been providing Town Deals of up to £25 million, or more in exceptional circumstances, to towns in order to foster economic regeneration, stimulate investment and deliver vital infrastructure.
In July 2019 the Prime Minister announced that the £3.6 billion Towns Fund would support an initial 101 town deals across England.
A Town Deal is an agreement in principle between government, the Lead Council and the Town Deal Board. It will set out a vision and strategy for the town, and what each party agrees to do to achieve this vision.