The Government has given the green light to the location of a new enterprise and technology college as its new principal flies in to take the helm determined to lead an employment push for youngsters in the south west.
The proposed North Somerset Enterprise and Technology College (NSTEC) is to be part of the Junction 21 Enterprise Area (J21EA), which aims to deliver 10,000 jobs by 2026.
Local companies in Weston-super-Mare and Bristol have been heavily involved in talks to create the new STEM college, with science, technology, engineering and maths at the core of the curriculum. It is hoped the college will produce highly-skilled youngsters fully equipped for either the workplace or higher education.
The college’s first principal Tony Wilson, who worked for the Economic Development Board of the Kingdom of Bahrain, returned to the UK this week (February 4) to take up his post ahead of the NSETC’s opening in September 2014.
Mr Wilson, 44, who was born in Bristol, said: “This is a unique opportunity for us to build and develop a different kind of school to anything else that has gone before. NSETC will deliver a state-of-the-art, cutting edge educational experience for all its students and I feel honoured to have been chosen to lead this exciting new project.
“The confirmation of the final site for NSETC is excellent news. This position in the heart of the business quarter means that the college will be part of the hub for enterprise and innovation. Our students will thrive in state-of-the-art facilities in an excellent location.”
J21EA, positioned at the ‘gateway to the south west’ off the M5, is laying the foundations to really put the south west on the business map, with forward-thinking enterprise areas aimed at bringing big business to the region.
The team behind the foundation of NSETC, including Weston-super-Mare’s Weston College, had earmarked land on the new Weston Business Quarter, close to junction 21 of the M5.
They have now heard that their bid for the site had been successful, subject to contract. Work on the new college is due to begin next year, once Government funding is confirmed, with a view to the site opening in September 2015.
Nigel Ashton, Leader of North Somerset Council said “Youth unemployment is always a concern and we want young people growing up in North Somerset to have the opportunity to remain here, near their families, and still have plenty of opportunities to forge highly-successful careers.”
“We believe that this new college will create highly-employable young people with the right skills necessary to succeed in the workplace. Many employers today feel that while youngsters may have the right academic qualifications they are still lacking when it comes to the workplace. We believe this new college will address those issues.”
NSETC will open at Weston College’s South West Skills Campus with an intake of 200 year 12 students in September 2014 and transfer to the new site the following year. It will then have an intake of 100 students in year 10 in 2015. It will continue to grow until it reaches capacity in 2017 with 300 students in key stage 4 and 400 in the sixth form.
To replicate a working day, the college will run from 8.30am until 5pm. Students will be given the chance to obtain work experience, industry mentorships, live project-briefs and additional qualifications wrapped around an enrichment package of sport, music and art.
Dr Paul Phillips, chairman of the trust responsible for the NSETC and principal and chief executive of Weston College, said: “The new college will be unique in its offer to young people and will enable its students to stand out from the crowd with university and job applications.
“It will be compulsory for students to dress as if they are working in the worlds of business or industry and a bursary will be put in place to help students finance this. The pupils will be given tremendous opportunities to ensure academic excellence as well as the chance to build up plenty of work experience to put on a CV.”