West Yorkshire Colleges, including Bradford College, have been successful in securing £6.9 million from the Department for Education to digitise teaching and learning in key sectors.
The funding is part of the Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF) and will launch a West Yorkshire digital innovation project led by colleges.
The project will support colleges and partners to build capacity to meet local skills priorities that were identified in the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP), launched by the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce in August.
Working through the consortium, colleges and partners will collaborate for maximum impact. They will develop current and new digitised training provision and curriculum for key industries.
The colleges will open specialist hubs and academies offering high level curriculum using immersive and digital technology and Artificial Intelligence.
The capital investment will include equipment and resources needed to use virtual reality, augmented reality, Artificial Intelligence, and robotics to equip colleges with the means to develop relevant and in-demand skills.
Project Director of the West Yorkshire Consortium of Colleges, Joanne Patrickson said,
“This is a fantastic opportunity for the region to advance the skills needed in technology to keep up with industry changes. Not only will the funding of new equipment help to improve the learning experience in colleges, the collaboration between our partners will grow the skills and knowledge of the teaching staff who can deliver relevant training to the current and future workforce.”
The West Yorkshire colleges benefiting from the funding include Bradford College, Calderdale College, Kirklees College, Luminate Education Group (Leeds City College and Keighley College), Heart of Yorkshire Education Group, Shipley College, and Leeds College of Building.
Bradford College has been awarded funding for the development of new provision and use of digital technologies within construction, advanced manufacturing & engineering, and health & social care.
The construction investment will seek to embed digital skills in specific trades and professional areas including property maintenance operatives. The project will develop a significant suite of interactive and immersive new skills in electrical, plastering, brick plumbing and joinery through the use of AR and VR.
The advanced manufacturing and engineering project will encompass the development of new skills designed to stimulate and support rapid growth of the UK’s advanced manufacturing sector as it transitions to digital solutions and autonomous robotic systems with a specific focus on robotics, additive manufacturing, and advanced process manufacturing.
The health & social care funding will enhance already specialist Clinical Health and Social Care provision and upskill those already established within the region’s workforce to meet the evolving application and use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and wearable technologies begin to permeate traditional clinical and care disciplines.
Chris Webb, CEO & Principal of Bradford College, said:
“Being awarded this funding is fantastic news for the community of Bradford and beyond and will help to transform lives across the region. By creating more cutting-edge facilities and enhancing exceptional provision we will help to boost digital talent and meet the local skill priority areas needed for a successful economy.”
Over the course of the project approximately 5,000 learners will benefit from around 100 new courses, with over 7,000 learners using the new equipment purchased with LSIF capital funds. Over 700 college staff will benefit from CPD activities.
The project runs until March 2025 and is part of the Government’s drive to transform skills training so that more people can secure good jobs close to home.