Walsall College is all set to show local school students, adults and businesses how to make their digital mark with the launch of a new technology centre funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The Digital Innovation Hub, in partnership with Fujitsu, is aimed at equipping local people with the digital skills needed to help them start new careers and support the region’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
The WMCA has funded the £100,000 project for the partners to deliver a new education model for teaching, training, learning and assessment while acting as a major gateway to employment with high technical and digital skills.
L-R Jatinder Sharma OBE, principal and chief executive of Walsall College, and Jayne Holt, assistant principal, are pictured at the opening of the Digital Innovation Hub
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, who opened the hub at a virtual event, said: “Sadly, many people have fallen out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic, but retraining or upskilling is a great way of finding employment again quickly.
“With rising automation and a changing job landscape, jobs in technology are in high demand. We estimate our digital industry will employ more than 100,000 people by 2030, but local people need to have the right skills to gain jobs in this growth sector.
“This shows how important it is that we are funding the Digital Innovation Hub to help Walsall residents make the most of these opportunities and enjoy a rewarding career in the tech sector.
“This partnership with Walsall College and Fujitsu is a great example of how we are improving digital skills throughout the region by funding further education and private providers and working with them to develop new training that meets the needs of employers.”
The hub will support local people including students, school leavers and jobseekers by providing them with access to real world scenarios developed in partnership with Fujitsu. Operating as a centre for knowledge sharing and demonstration activity, the facilities include laser cutting, virtual reality, augmented and mixed reality equipment, all of which can be used for product design purposes and to trial and test artificial intelligence (AI).
College principal and chief executive, Jatinder Sharma OBE said: “Improving digital literacy and accessibility to new and emerging technologies is the key purpose of this centre.
“As digital production processes and communication practices become further embedded in our lives, it’s essential we provide practical, creative spaces that encourage communities to embrace these future ways of working and living.
“Our hub is designed to support everyone from young learners to jobseekers to upskilling professionals; paving the way for them to be active, enterprising citizens, all contributing to the region’s digital talent, output and growth.”
Andy Halpin, education sales specialist at Fujitsu, added: “Fujitsu has a long-standing association within education and working with Walsall College, we have seen the value they bring in developing specific technical skills that are needed for the future of UK PLC and the digital economy. We are excited that through our collaboration with Walsall College we are already seeing positive opportunities for learners being created in the digital sector.
“Through our continued partnership with Walsall College, we remain focussed on developing an outstanding technical curriculum that will help create a highly skilled workforce for the region and beyond, ensuring they keep pace with innovative digital technologies and providing businesses like Fujitsu with home-grown talent which will become the next generation of digital leaders.”
Watch this video of Mayor opening the Digital Innovation Hub: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YFCnKgBfN-8&feature=youtu.be
For further information about schools programmes, taster sessions, bootcamps and other professional development-based opportunities available at the Digital Innovation Hub, visit www.walsallcollege.ac.uk/enterprises/digital-innovation-hub