STEM and Health Skills Centre on course for spring opening

December 3, 2021

A £6.3m STEM and Health Skills Centre in Bodmin that aims to transform the teaching of industry-relevant skills in Cornwall is on course to open in spring next year.

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and Health Skills Centre for North and East Cornwall is being built by Truro and Penwith College with support from the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which is meeting £3.78m of the costs through the Government’s Getting Building Fund (GBF).

Representatives from the LEP, accompanied by North Cornwall MP Scott Mann, recently toured the site where contractors Midas expect to complete the installation of the roof in the next few weeks, paving the way for the fit out of state-of-the-art facilities.

The new centre, called the Ottery building, will initially offer a range of programmes aimed at meeting the needs of the engineering, manufacturing, digital and health sectors. This will include access courses aimed at adults wanting to enter higher education and retrain for high skilled local careers.

The 1,918 square metre centre will train over 300 people a year, with over 120 learners on apprenticeships and T-Level qualifications, and support 150 businesses in the next five years. Truro and Penwith College is working closely with local employers and business groups to make sure the courses on offer match what industry needs.

Minister for Levelling Up, the Union and Constitution, Neil O’Brien MP said: “Cornwall is central to our plans for Levelling Up. Backed by more than £3.7 million from the government’s Getting Building Fund, this state of the art STEM and healthcare training facility will providing unique opportunities for people in Cornwall – helping them step up the career ladder and secure good quality jobs.

“As we level up communities every corner of the United Kingdom, we are investing in ambitious local projects like this, which provide opportunity, boost local economies and help communities build back better from the pandemic.”

North Cornwall MP, Scott Mann, said:The STEM and Health Skills Centre will benefit businesses, communities and individuals across North Cornwall, and it was great to see such progress during our site visit. Cornwall needs first-class facilities like these to stay competitive and give local people more opportunities, and investment from the Government’s Getting Building Fund is making that happen. This is a UK leading facility right here in North Cornwall. It has the potential to change life chances for our children here. I am proud to support it.”

Frances Brennan, chair of the LEP’s Employment and Skills Board, said: “This is a major strategic investment in skills to support new and growing areas of Cornwall’s economy, in line with our Local Industrial Strategy and post-Covid recovery priorities.

“Adult learning is a particular focus because we want to harness the experience and skills of older workers who may find themselves out of work and needing to reskill for a change in career.”

Truro and Penwith College Principal Martin Tucker said: “The centre aims to create a truly collaborative environment where local employers and the college work together to produce the future workforce needed to achieve Cornwall’s ambitions, which is why we are ensuring significant employer involvement in programme design and delivery, and are already working with the likes of Cornwall Manufacturing Group and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust.”

The STEM and Health Skills Centre will offer a wide range of courses including: apprenticeships, including degree level apprenticeships; T-Levels including engineering courses new for 2022; Level 4 and 5 technical qualifications, and access courses. The centre hopes to offer newly approved Higher Technical Qualifications, with programmes currently undergoing Institute of Apprenticeship and Technical Education approval.

Planned full time courses range from software developer and network engineer apprentice, to degree apprenticeships in adult and mental health, to higher national certificate (HNC) and higher national diploma (HND) in mechanical engineering.

The centre will house state-of-the art facilities including engineering workshops, a health simulation suite, digital labs and a conference and meeting facility, enabling the delivery of industry CPD courses, collaboration events and joint research projects.