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Preston College

Preston’s College to build on success with £13m STEM centre

News - Wednesday, 20th November, 2013

Preston’s College has today been awarded funding to progress plans for a multi-million pound Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) centre at its Fulwood Campus.

The new facility is a huge boost for the College, and comes on top of work about to begin on a £5m ‘In-Zone’ which is focused around enterprise and will help learners to develop business ideas and enterprise skills.

In a bold departure from traditional use, the new £13m STEM centre at Preston’s College will provide learners from all areas of its curriculum with the opportunity to work on live briefs.  This is based on a full process model that moves from idea generation within the College’s In-Zone, through research and development within the STEM centre, to the production of an end product and possible new business start-ups back at the In-Zone.

This unique approach, which has employability and enterprise at its heart, is what helped the College secure funding, alongside endorsement from the Lancashire Local Economic Partnership and BAE Systems.

Working with key employers across the region is said to be an integral part of the new facility with positive discussions having already taken place with a number of employers from Baxi through to Lancashire Teaching Hospitals.

A CBI report earlier in the year stated that Science and Technology skills are in widespread demand and the College is committed to playing its part in providing the skilled workers of the future.

Lis Smith, Principal and Chief Executive said this marked a huge step forward for the College: “One thing that our research has shown us is that not only are employers in the STEM sector struggling to recruit the right calibre of candidates, but there is an increasing demand for employees in other sectors to have knowledge and experience of STEM subjects.

“Alongside our In-Zone, which encourages creative thinking and ideas generation, we envisage the STEM centre helping to plug that skills gap for many employers – providing the knowledge, skills and experience that local businesses are looking for.

“One key factor with the new facility is that it’s not just a new science block to teach those subjects in, but a real hive of innovation and creativity for all our learners, the wider community and of course, the local businesses we work with.”

The news comes at a great time for the College which is going through a significant period of change.  Recently re-branded as Preston’s College, the College is tangibly demonstrating its commitment to taking a leading role within its community, fostered by close working and increased engagement with local businesses.

It also demonstrates that the change is being noticed – the College’s Principal, Dr Lis Smith was recently awarded the Contribution to Lancashire award at the Lancashire Business Awards.

Dr Smith added: “We have worked closely with the Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership and key local employers who have all supported the bid and will, I’m sure, make full use of the facilities once we have them.

“This is a positive step for Preston’s College but also for the city as a whole, and a key part of our bid was the support the new facility can bring to the Preston and Lancashire City Deal.

“As an enterprising College we are always looking to move forward.  With the new STEM centre, our investment in infrastructure now stands at over £20m in the space of a few, short years.  The new facility is just another example of how we are constantly striving to best meet learners’ needs, and to make them the most employable they can be.”


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