Professor Brian Cox CBE visited Teesside to see the extent of a £20m investment that will transform the region’s technical skills.
He said the investment by Middlesbrough College – which includes a new state-of-the-art Digital Centre and expansion of its industry-leading STEM centre – will put young people across the region at the “forefront of the new industrial revolution”.
The investment forms part of Middlesbrough College’s role in the North East Institute of Technology (IoT) – a collaboration between further education providers, universities and employers who are recognised as leaders in technical training.
Professor Cox added: “Middlesbrough College is well ahead of the curve when it comes to delivering technical training and there’s a real understanding here of what industry needs.
“The opening of its STEM centre back in 2015 was ground-breaking and genuinely surpassed my expectations – so when I heard about the new plans, I had to come back and learn more.
“We need more apprentices and STEM graduates and facilities like this and the people here will be the driving force behind that – everyone will benefit from this investment.”
Staff and students welcomed the famous physicist to the £100m college campus, where he had the chance to speak with young aspiring scientists and engineers who are already benefiting from world class training in construction, engineering, manufacturing and supply chain industry skills.
Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive, said: “It’s incredibly humbling to welcome Professor Cox back to Middlesbrough College, seven years after he opened our £20m STEM training centre.
“Since then, the College has helped transform this region’s economic competitiveness and this new investment will enhance learning opportunities available to our students and equip them with the technical skills needed to secure high value jobs.”
Supporting its delivery of higher-level technical training, the £20m STEM training centre is being expanded to include a new Higher Education centre comprising 11,800 sq. ft of teaching space, IT facilities, learning resource centre and staff offices.
Construction is also well underway on the new multi-million-pound Digital Centre that will host industry-leading programming suites, cyber labs, video editing suites, a games design suite and a full TV and film studio.
Launching this autumn, the centre will deliver digital T Levels courses covering skills in games development, IT, computing networking, software programming, cyber security, digital video production and digital video production.
As part of its investment, the College is also launching MCClick, a new free laptop loan device scheme for students to help eradicate digital poverty, ensuring all of its students have equipment to support their studies.
The scheme will help learners develop key digital skills to boost employability and support them in their future careers.
Also awaiting new students come September will be a state-of-the-art Construction Skills Workshop that will provide additional space both inside and out for construction students to hone their skills.
Having successfully trialled T Levels for the government, the College was formally chosen earlier this year to launch a full range of the two-year qualifications and is the only college in Tees Valley to deliver T Levels from September this year.
The new technically-focussed qualifications that have been developed with employers to equip learners with the skills they need to succeed in the workplace.
Further works include refurbishing the College library to develop a new social space for students at the heart of the campus as well as opening a dedicated education space in Middlesbrough Town Centre to take learning into the community.