West Yorkshire Colleges, including Leeds College of Building, 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.
The funding has been split into six key areas with investment for digital innovation in:
- creative industries,
- health and social care,
- advanced manufacturing,
- Financial technology (Fintech),
- the wider digital development of teaching and learning.
Each area will be led by a West Yorkshire college that will lead the innovation, host the digital hub and share experience and knowledge and develop teaching and learning across all colleges.
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 Leeds College of Building, Bradford College, Calderdale College, Kirklees College, Luminate Education Group (Leeds City College and Keighley College), Heart of Yorkshire Education Group, and Shipley College.
Leeds College of Building has been awarded funding for the development of new specialist hubs for digital skills within the construction industry to meet the demands in the area for diverse skilled workers. This will also include funding for mobile digital hubs across the region with AI technology and VR/AR equipment.
Nikki Davis, Principal and CEO of Leeds College of Building said:
“We are delighted to be awarded this funding to help support local people to access high quality provision, with industry leading facilities. The focus on digital construction will provide opportunities for employers and future employees to develop vital skills.”
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.