A MULTI-million pound bid to revolutionise digital, engineering and manufacturing technology education across the South West has been successful, it has been announced.

The Institute of Technology in the South West is an emerging collaborative project between universities, Further Education colleges, and leading employers that will specialise in locally delivering quality higher-level technical training and provide employers with the skilled workforce they need.

After securing the £15 million bid, David Walrond, Principal at Truro and Penwith College, said: “[This] is excellent news for Cornwall. The Institute will create a range of local progression opportunities into higher education and apprenticeship provision, which is designed in partnership with the growing group of engineering and digital businesses in Cornwall. As a result, the courses and training will meet the local higher skills needs for these important industries, offering well paid careers and making a valuable contribution to local economic growth.”

The Institute will establish a range of new buildings and facilities across the region, with Truro and Penwith College being the sole education partner in Cornwall, but will have centres located across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset, with additional state-of-the-art facilities proposed for Exeter, Plymouth, Barnstaple and Taunton.

Catering for up to 2,500 students, in apprenticeship and full-time courses from post-16 level to Masters degree level, the Institute will help put the region at the forefront of digital and engineering education across the UK.

Commenting on the College’s success, Sarah Newton MP said: “Truro & Penwith College will be providing skills training in growing, high skilled, well paid sectors of our economy. I am delighted that local people will have the chance to develop digital and engineering skills in high quality, industry standard facilities with the latest equipment. Enabling more local people to have access to high quality education, skills training, and apprenticeships is a top priority for me, so that more people can earn higher salaries and growing industries can thrive here. Congratulations to David Walrond and his team in securing this funding.”

In Cornwall, Truro and Penwith College is already working with key local employers and trade representatives to develop provision, including radiocommunication company Goonhilly Earth Station Ltd, the technology company Hertzian Ltd, WES Engineering, the Cornwall Manufacturing Group and the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce.

One of Cornwall’s largest engineering firms, WES Engineering, is a key partner in the project. Daniel Hutchings, Operation Manager at WES Engineering, said: “Cornwall’s economic growth and indeed our own business expansion is dependent upon specialist skills. Our current partnership with the college will be enhanced by the Institute’s range of engineering and digital specialist higher-level training and apprenticeships. Available locally they will meet a desperate need within Cornwall and indeed the South West of UK.”

Dr Kat Hickey, Goonhilly’s Business Development and Training Manager, said: “The proposed Institute will provide a critical link in the local skills pipeline by allowing motivated and talented individuals to gain the technical skills needed for progression into rapidly expanding technology sector in Cornwall.”

Christopher Weavill, Chief Operations Officer of Hertzian Ltd, said: “We are confident that working in collaboration with Truro & Penwith College and other key Cornish businesses we will be able enhance the Institute’s range of digital, IT engineering specialist higher level training and apprenticeships. Having such access to outstanding provision locally, working together will aid us in meeting a desperate need within both the South West region and indeed Cornwall.”

Completion of the facilities are planned for March 2021, while the Institute itself will be taking on initial students to start this coming September.