Plans for a science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) block at Crawley College have been approved.
The application for the three-storey multi-million pound facility was given the nod by the borough council’s planning committee, much to the delight of Shelagh Legrave OBE, chief executive of the Chichester College Group, which runs the campus.
She said: “Working with employers, the council and the community, we recognise how important it is to invest in STEM and this new facility will give the college a specialist building to train students in advanced technologies, in turn ensuring that local people are able to fill local jobs in these industries.”
In the past, business leaders have been vocal about the lack of necessary technology skills among school leavers – something schools and colleges across the county have been fighting to rectify through the use of STEM work.
The new block at Crawley College has received funding from the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership and its technology – including virtual and mixed reality – will be used to integrate STEM into all subjects taught at the college.
Ms Legrave said: “This is part of our long-term commitment to Crawley College and investing in the modernisation of our facilities for the benefit of young people in the local area.
“This will also be a centre that will be accessible to local schools, employers and the wider community – it will be a STEM centre that is not just for Crawley College, but for Crawley.”
Julie Kapsalis, the college group’s managing director, added: “We are aiming to address skills shortages in the engineering, construction and IT industries, providing high quality, employer-led training in industry-standard facilities.
“This in turn will help to drive career aspirations, enabling young people to gain the support and training they need to take advantage of the opportunities that exist in these industries.
“The new STEM facility will enhance the way we teach and introduce a whole new way of learning, which is more interactive, creative and engaging and will enable us to develop new courses to train the future workforce in a wide range of specialisms.
“This centre will also integrate STEM technology into all subjects, providing a different approach to teaching and training.”
Building work is due to start in January, managed by West Sussex-based contractors W Stirland Ltd, and is scheduled to open to students one year later.