Gloucestershire College unveils £3 million cyber and engineering facilities
By Sarah Wood
Gloucestershire College held the official launch of its new computing and cyber facilities in Cheltenham yesterday (September 23).
The event was attended by businesspeople from around the county, along with students from the college.
The opening was originally planned to take place a few months ago, but was delayed due to Covid. It was sponsored by Harrison Clark Rickerbys.
The brand new cyber and engineering facilities at the Cheltenham campus are part of the West of England Institute of Technology (WEIoT).
The WEIoT is one of only 12 national Institutes of Technology licensed by the Department for Education to support local employers to develop higher level skills and train employees for the jobs of tomorrow.
The ethos of the WEIoT is to open up university level education to all sectors of the community and support GFirst LEP's local industrial strategy. The college offers qualifications including Level 3 T-Levels, apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships, in partnership with UWE Bristol.
Matthew Burgess, principal of Gloucestershire College, said: "We're offering full-time degrees here in Cheltenham, accredited by UWE. We're also offering the first degree apprenticeship in cyber security recognised by the National Cyber Security Centre in England."
As part of the WEIoT, Gloucestershire College secured £3 million to invest in engineering lab equipment and a state-of-the-art cyber training centre. The college's brand new facilities are equipped with the latest hardware and software, providing students and apprentices with the optimal environment to learn and put cutting-edge theory into practise.
Matthew Burgess continued: "We've got an innovation centre being developed where we can get in cyber tech start-up businesses. We can mix students and employers. We can make sure students are accessing the employers to get placement opportunities and employers can access that skills pipeline.
"We're trying to create a cyber community here in Cheltenham as the first step towards the proposed cyber park."
Bruce Gregory from Hub 8, which has just opened on the college site, showed Punchline editor, Mark Owen, around the facility.
Bruce said: "It's going to be a new innovation centre and a platform for an amazing collaboration between industry and academia.
"We've got great spaces, meeting rooms, a board room, a great kitchen. We think it's the best workspace in Gloucestershire!
"We've got loads of different businesses in here. We've got tech giants, start-ups and SMEs. Some of the fastest growing start-ups and SMEs in the region use these facilities.
"I'm really excited about how these start-ups and SMEs can work with the students and staff at Gloucestershire College, because that will give opportunities for work placements and work experience. It's about inspiring the next generation.
"It's unique what we've got here. It will provide future growth not only for Cheltenham, but for the region."
Matthew Burgess continued: "It's great to see people again. Gloucestershire is such a vibrant business community and we've missed some of that during the pandemic.
"We've got loads of partners and supporters here and they'll spread the message. Everyone who has been here will have been hugely impressed in terms of the facilities and the expertise of the staff. They'll be surprised about what's on offer here on their doorstep.
"We're going to create some great opportunities for students. We're going to get more people into careers in cyber and computing and we're going to help employers get the skills they need to boost our economy."
Mark Owen, editor of Punchline-gloucester.com, said: "There's a really fantastic vibe at the college and it's great to mix and mingle again and to see it packed full of students.
"This will be one of the jewels in the crown for Gloucestershire's cyber business and is a huge part of the county's cyber revolution."
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