Students of all ages can look forward to an exciting new future for Stockport College as the town moves into an exciting new era. Principal Simon Andrews spoke exclusively to The Mail about how the college is finally very much part of extensive plans to rejuvenate the area after years of disappointment.
Plans to be published later in the year place the college at the very hub of a vibrant new Stockport.
It’s a far cry from the days when dashed town centre development plans left the college in the lurch, but Simon Andrews prefers to look forward rather than back – and progress isn’t just in the near future, but the here and now:
“We are currently in the process of a merger with two other colleges which will make us more financially stable and improve quality still further and develop curriculum.” Simon explained.
Explaining more about those plans for a new building, he continued:
“We have the support of the local authority and the combined authority and the evidence of this campus clearly demonstrates that we need some new premises.”
Funding is being lined up for the £40 million venture and a number of town centre sites have been earmarked. With £1 billion currently being spent on Stockport’s regeneration programme, it will surely prove to be a win-win for the area with the new college being a central part of the newly developed town centre and offering even more for its students whilst freeing up land that the current facility occupies – most likely for much-needed housing.
The relocation of the college will also further enhance its already strong links with local businesses which forms a vital role in their extensive courses and apprenticeships.
“We have some of the best facilities nationally for the house-building trades – bricklaying, plastering, plumbing, electrical engineering, carpentry, joinery, in fact all the skills associated with house-building and our partnership with construction firm Seddons ties in with that.” Simon said.
Seddons are just one of many large companies to work in partnership with the college, there is also an exclusive link-up with Manchester Airport which, as Simon explains, spreads Stockport College’s net of skills beyond Stockport town centre:
“We have offices and classrooms at the airport which are used to deliver a huge amount of training and upskilling for the local Wythenshawe area. The airport is currently the subject of a £100 million development program and the college is right in the middle of that, offering apprenticeships and training in all of the skills.”
So what does 2017 hold for Stockport College? Financial security following the merger is the immediate aim, and a final decision on the site for the new building with plans drawn up before the year is out will mean a busy 12 months.
Closer to campus, the college will be hosting World Skills heats in the early part of the new year which further underlines the high regard that their facilities are held as well as being the regional hub for the Bloodhound Initiative which is a project aimed at breaking the land-speed record.
Another key area is their place as the Greater Manchester hub for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) which works with local schools – primary and secondary – to provide a way of engaging with these subjects that has previously not been available.
Simon was also keen to underline Stockport College’s vital role in Higher Education – where it is one of the largest providers in the country – and open not only to school or college leavers:
“We offer higher education to a whole range of people who wouldn’t normally perhaps think of going to university or want to go into central Manchester to do a three year degree. Our courses cater for people who perhaps have families or children and aren’t interested in the 24/7 University experience” he explained.
“If you’re interested in developing a career in a professional, technical or vocational area then Stockport college is the place where you will get the skills that will get you a job.”