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Announcement, News

Proposal for city centre innovation centre on Bath College campus gets £300k boost

I-START is a collaboration between Bath College, the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, Bath & North East Somerset Council and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA)

 

I-START is designed to help local people to gain new skills and re-train for roles in the creative and digital sectors. It also aims to provide a more flexible approach to learning which will fit around people’s busy lives, making it more accessible to those without traditional qualifications. This would help more people from diverse social and educational backgrounds gain new skills, leading to high quality jobs in the creative and digital sectors.
 
The plan is to create an innovation centre – believed to be the first of its kind in the UK – on Bath College’s City Centre campus. As well as training, the innovation centre will also work with businesses, helping them develop new ideas.
 
The West of England Combined Authority approved the outline business case and agreed to invest £300,000 to develop and design the project further. This will including a review of the plans in light of Covid-19.
 
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “I am keen to ensure that all our residents, whatever their background or challenges, can realise their potential by gaining the digital skills our region needs in future.
 
“This focus on future digital skills is now more important than ever as we look at our region’s economic renewal, coming out of Covid-19. By offering people more training opportunities that will help them to develop the right skills that our region’s businesses need, we can give them the best possible chances to re-train and up-skill in their chosen careers.”
 
The I-START project involves a ground-breaking collaboration between the college, the University of Bath, Bath Spa University, Bath & North East Somerset Council and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).
 
Councillor Tim Ball, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet member for Housing, Planning and Economic Development, said: “Now we are in the recovery phase of COVID-19, giving people the right skills to meet the demands of the future will be key to the economic recovery of Bath and North East Somerset as a whole. I’m pleased that the I-START project will take an inclusive approach to opening up further and higher education to more people in our region.”
 
I-START’s learning space would be co-located with innovative start-up businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises (via the SETsquared University of Bath Innovation Centre), the Institute of Coding and research & knowledge exchange – spanning the digital and creative economy, robotics, social science and the arts – leading to collaboration between partners, students and businesses.
 
The proposed training centre would be based next to Bath Quays, with its excellent links across the region; giving students access to growing businesses looking to expand their workforces. By 2027, it is expected that 55% of UK jobs will require higher level qualifications.
 
Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath, said: “We are delighted that the I-START Outline Business Case has been approved, and look forward to working with WECA and our project partners to continue to develop our plans. I’d like to thank all those involved for their hard work in getting the project to this stage.
 
“What we’re jointly proposing is a genuinely exciting prospect for our city, expanding the University’s world-leading SETsquared Bath Innovation Centre, improving access to our research and expertise in areas of value to the City, creating Bath’s first digital labs to accommodate new and growing businesses, and building on our experience as educational providers to enhance the future prospects of the City as a location for inward investment.
 
“Not only is this a project exactly what the city will need as we look to bounce back from the economic impacts of Covid19, but it will benefit our city for years to come.”
 
Principal and Chief Executive of Bath College, Laurel Penrose, said: “We are delighted to be part of such a great partnership. At Bath College we are always striving to identify and address the needs of local people and employers.
 
We look forward to the development of the innovation centre at our City Centre Campus and welcoming a whole new cohort of students.”
 
Professor Andy Salmon, Pro Vice Chancellor External, Bath Spa University on behalf of Vice Chancellor Sue Rigby, said: “It is fitting that this exciting inclusive growth project is the first time that the four essential Bath partners have combined their national and international leading strengths in skills, innovation, and business start up. The revolutionary part of this programme is its ability to make ambitious and necessary connections across disciplines and business opportunities at the very moment when our skills and core purposes are undergoing radical shift. This project gives us the opportunity for the city and region to move forward rapidly harnessing the formidable capacity of one great College and two excellently complimentary Universities.”
 
I-START will help meet the objectives set out in the West of England Local Industrial Strategy and Employment and Skills Plan.
 

Sketch view of proposed building - looking east from James Street

Announcement, News

Bath College reveal initial plans for Digital and Creative Innovation Centre

 

Bath College is developing proposals for a new academic building, to be located along the northern boundary of the College with St. James’ Parade.
 
The new building is required to enable the College to better meet the skills need for the digital and creative industries and provide specialist facilities which are not currently available to students, employers and small-to-medium enterprises in the locality. It is envisaged that the new building will comprise of innovation learning spaces, public spaces and pre-incubation spaces.
 
Whilst the design of the new building is in the early stages of development, it is expected that it will comprise an additional 1,300m² of internal floor space for the College and be designed with due regard to the character of the historic buildings in the immediate context of the campus.
 

This new building will replace an existing area of car parking and a plant room, roughly on a footprint matching the extent of the adjacent parade, which formerly continued further to the west. Given that the proposed development is contained within the existing campus, it is not considered that the development will cause any detrimental impacts to existing residents or businesses.
 
The College’s consultant team has commenced pre-application discussions with BANES Council and is in the process of notifying other identified key stakeholders. A public consultation is also planned for early 2020, in advance of a planning application due to be submitted in March 2020.
 

News

WIDJET Q&A with Dr Daisy Walsh, Head of Technology

 

Bath College is running a brand new course: WIDJET. WiDJET’s focus is to get Women into Digital Jobs, Education and Training. We spoke to Dr Daisy Walsh, Head of Technology at Bath College all about the new programme:
 

What is WIDJET?
WIDJET (Women into Digital Jobs, Education and Training) is a new skills programme from the West of England Combined Authority, funded by the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, to help and support women to find jobs in digital roles.
It’s a play on the word ‘widget’ as in our sessions, we will be working with robots. Bath College is running a free taster session that will give people a chance to experience programming, which if they enjoy, they can then sign up to a free 6 session course to develop their skills further.
 

Why is it important for women to be involved in digital jobs?
If you look at a cross-section of IT/computing jobs, you see that it is still very male dominated. That’s not to say that there aren’t lots of very successful females, but we need to keep at it and keep promoting these opportunities to women. Our WIDJET sessions could be for women who have already forged a career in another discipline, perhaps you think it’s too late, but it’s not! Computing roles are vast, and programming is a key skill that employers are looking for. Our free session offers a sound base so that you can progress onto a specific course after if you wish.
 

Tell us a little bit about your background.
I am heading WIDJET at Bath College because I was accidentally introduced to Computing and IT through a ‘Women in New Technology’ scheme 30 years ago, which focused on machine programming languages. At the time, I was a Secondary School Science Teacher. After learning programming I worked for Avon and Somerset Police as a programmer before moving to Bath College to teach IT. I am now the Head of Technology at Bath College and have just completed my PhD in Education Management.
 

What do you have planned for the sessions at Bath College?
After the first taster session, the course will focus on basic programming principles, getting robots to move, getting them to respond to sensors and interacting with the environment. At the end of the 6 sessions the participants will have the fundamentals of programming and could look to pursue a career in web development, app development and general programming.
 

How can women get more info/apply?
To sign up to the taster session on 18th June, email me, Daisy Walsh at WIDJET@bathcollege.ac.uk or call 01225 328533
 
 

 
To look at a whole range of Computing/IT courses at Bath College, click here.
 

News

New skills programme to get more women into digital careers

 

A new skills programme to help and support women to find jobs in digital roles has been announced.

 

The West of England Combined Authority has secured £238,000 funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) for the new Women into Digital Jobs, Education and Training (WIDJET) programme.
 
Bath College; digital training businesses Mayden Academy and Boomsatsuma; Knowle West Media Centre and the Dot Project will all be involved in delivering activities and training starting almost immediately and running until the summer of 2019.
 
WIDJET will work with women across the region, providing digital skills and training from entry-level taster sessions through to high-level industry specified courses. Participants can take part in a range of skills courses, training or seminars designed directly with business needs in mind, with the aim of them securing jobs in digital roles.
 
Minister for Digital, Margot James said: “I am thrilled to announce that the West of England Combined Authority was one of our Digital Skills Innovation Fund winners. Its fantastic work with Bath College, Mayden Academy, Boomsatsuma, Knowle West Media Centre and the Dot Project will change lives.
 
“Women are underrepresented in tech roles and this funding aims to help develop a more gender diverse workforce because it is not only the right thing to do but also makes business sense.”
 
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “This is fantastic news and supports one of my key ambitions of improving job opportunities across the region. I want to ensure that everyone, regardless of background or personal circumstances, can access support to develop workplace skills so that they can fulfil their potential. Digital and tech is an important part of the West of England’s economy, and businesses have a particular need for skilled employees now, and this demand is expected to grow in future.
 
“Women are currently under-represented in digital roles and this new project will seek to tackle this by engaging with a wide group of women in communities, with the aim of moving us towards more representative and inclusive employment in digital roles across the region. This could include roles in virtual reality, VFX design or software development.”
 
Each partner organisation already has their own strong networks that they will use to raise awareness of the project, which aims to improve the skills and experience of at least 350 women.
 
More details about WIDJET can be found on our webpage www.westofengland-ca.gov.uk or by emailing – widjet@westofengland-ca.gov.uk
 

News

£32m investment approved by the West of England Joint Committee, giving Bath College £2m

 

More than £32 million investment in projects to drive economic growth and support residents’ skills was approved by the West of England Joint Committee on Friday 15 February.

 

Committee members agreed to invest £23.9 million from the Economic Development Fund and £7 million through the Local Growth Fund to support Bath & North East Somerset Council’s initial development works on Bath Quays North. The project will see the creation of around 200,000 square feet of offices on the Bath Quays North site in the Enterprise Zone.

 

The West of England Joint Committee also awarded Bath College more than £2 million from the Local Growth Fund to support the refurbishment of its Catering and Hospitality Education and Training Hub. This will create a state-of-the-art hub with specialist training facilities to keep pace with the growing demand for hospitality and catering sector skills.

 

Professor Steve West, Chair of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We are happy to approve the funding for these schemes which support our ambitions for clean and inclusive economic growth in the West of England, through improving skills opportunities for people across the region, helping more start-up businesses to develop and grow, and increasing productivity.”

 

Tim Bowles, West of England Mayor, said: “These are big, exciting projects that will make a real difference to our residents’ lives, boosting business, skills and job opportunities in Bath and the wider region.”

 

Councillor Paul Myers, Bath & North East Somerset Council’s cabinet member for Economic and Community Regeneration, said: “This funding both contributes to the physical development of key office space in Bath as well as delivering facilities essential for skills development for a future workforce and is to be welcomed. I am especially pleased that Bath continues to attract new business and with this funding we are demonstrating our commitment to economic vitality in the city and across the wider area.”

 

Laurel Penrose, Principal and CEO of Bath College: “We are delighted at the allocations of the capital funds for catering/hospitality and the next steps for the digital centre as we know how beneficial it will be to the local economy. Furthermore, it’s a real vote of confidence in Bath College’s staff and students, who will benefit greatly.”
 

The committee also invited the following colleges to develop further business cases for new projects, totalling more than £10 million, to benefit local learners and businesses:
• Bath College’s Digital and Creative Innovation Centre at the Bath city centre campus
• South Gloucestershire and Stroud College’s sub-regional Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths Hub, at its West of England Institute of Specialist Education campus at Stoke Gifford
• Weston College’s Animal Management Education Centre – a new education facility for the delivery of the animal management curriculum at Puxton Park.
 

The Joint Committee is the decision-making body for issues relating to the West of England Combined Authority, Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire councils, and the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership.
 

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