A West Cumbrian college has been awarded £636,364 to expand its courses and apprenticeships.
Lakes College has been awarded the funding by the Department of Education to develop and deliver higher level qualifications – including apprenticeships – for employers and learners in digital, science, low carbon and engineering manufacturing for nuclear from September 2023.
Chris Nattress, principal at the college said: “We are delighted to receive this award. The project will increase the pool of higher skills developed in, attracted to and retained in Cumbria, while also providing routes to meet immediate acute skills gaps.
“The fund also allows us to support the LEP Skills and LSIP plans for Cumbria by building a better digital skills base across the county.
“We will develop and enhance skills aligned to changes in the economy linked to development of clean energy and meet future higher skills needs for projects in Cumbria in engineering, science and nuclear manufacturing.”
The grant funding, which has been awarded from the Higher Technical Education Skills Injection Fund, will support the college to grow quality higher technical education and raise the prestige of provision at Level 4 and 5, including Higher Technical Qualifications, among learners and employers.
Paul Fairclough, dean of higher education at Lakes College, said: “This successful funding bid is great news for Higher Education in West Cumbria and the wider region.
“It also supports Lakes College’s Higher Education growth strategy in ensuring that we provide a wide and accessible offer of degree-level qualifications for local people and employers.
“Our new, well-resourced technical qualifications will be designed to meet the growing demand for high-level digital skills, bioscience technology, low carbon energy and manufacturing for nuclear.”
The fund also has a capital element which will fund refurbishment of laboratories and the project room in the National College for Nuclear at Lakes College. The college will invest in the latest equipment to support the delivery of the new curriculum.
Jo Lappin, chief executive of the Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This funding to Lakes College will increase Level 4 and 5 qualifications in Cumbria and help meet the current and future skills needs of our businesses.
“Importantly, the curriculum is going to concentrate on those sectors where we have high demand, such as engineering manufacturing and low carbon, or those sectors where there is real growth potential, such as digital.
“The investment in new facilities and equipment will mean that the new students will have an excellent learning experience.”
Suzanne Caldwell, managing director at Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, added: “The Higher Technical Education Skills Injection Fund will support Cumbria’s Local Skills Improvement Plan.
“We work closely with Lakes College and are delighted about this expansion of provision which will make a huge difference to the county’s employers, enabling them to access the higher skills needed for economic growth and fill skills gaps. Importantly, it will also raise attainment levels at 4 and 5 for the area.”