New £4 million digital skills centre set to be a ‘real asset’ for Cirencester

Businesses in the Cotswolds have welcomed news that work has started on a new £4.48 million digital skills centre at Cirencester College.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published

Businesses have welcomed news that work has started on a £4.48 million Gloucestershire Applied Digital Skills Centre at Cirencester College.

‘The new Gloucestershire Applied Digital Skills Centre at Cirencester College will be a real asset for the town,’ said Adam Vines, vice president of Cirencester Chamber of Commerce.

‘Not only will it provide a huge boost for the local economy by offering an integrated training solution for young people and adults within these cutting-edge facilities, it will inspire the next generation of trained young adults to stay within the community and develop their skills in the digital sector that will emerge because of the skills centre.’

Oli Christie, the chief executive officer of Cirencester-base mobile app and games maker Neon Play, also welcomed the development: ‘It’s fantastic news. Digital and cyber skills are going to be increasingly important for the next generation and the job opportunities in Cirencester, the rocking Cotswolds and Gloucestershire will be huge.

‘For a mobile games company like Neon Play, we are always looking to hire talented, young people and we hope that this new centre can help train them to become the gaming superstars of tomorrow.’

For GFirst LEP, the start of the project is also a chance to place Cirencester in the emerging narrative of Gloucestershire as a cyber capital of the UK, and to underline this is a county-wide story.

The new centre will be part of ‘the push to deliver the skills needed in the cyber and digital sectors’, with the project one of five in the county which received a slice of £11.3million won by GFirst LEP from the Government’s Getting Building Fund.

David Owen, the local enterprise partnership’s chief executive officer, said the college would be at the forefront of delivering skills which were becoming ‘even more important for our economy’.

‘We need the next generation of students to be right at the forefront of digital education and this project will enable that to happen,’ said Mr Owen.

Jim Grant, Cirencester College principal, said: ‘We are extremely excited about the completion of the new digital building.

‘Our plans for both digital and T-levels (Technical levels) have been completely shaped by our dialogue with local employers and GFirst LEP.

‘Although Cheltenham is the capital for cyber security, digital skills are so much more than just cyber.’

He added: ‘Virtually every company and public service relies on digital technologies and digital skills are needed whether you are marketing coffee or mapping wildlife habitats.

‘And while GCHQ provides cybersecurity for the whole of the UK every company, school or hospital needs cyber security to safeguard their own systems and data.

‘In Cirencester, as elsewhere in Gloucestershire we have a range of amazing companies which employ young talent in the cyber and digital spheres.

‘At one end you have creative start-ups like Neon Play and at the other you have national players such as St James’s Place with their interest in Financial Technology (Fintech).’

‘So working in partnership with employers, we are doing the best by our young people as well as enabling these great local companies to recruit local and grow themselves.

‘We will be also be developing more apprenticeships and technical courses for adults to ensure that everyone has had the opportunity to gain the right skills and meet the demand for talent in digital and cyber.’

Gloucester-based Roberts Limbrick Architects designed the new centre with another city-based firm, EG Carter, in charge of construction.

By Andrew Merrell

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