image004Oldham College has been named as the UK’s first Career College specialising in digital industries and technologies this September.

The new facility will ensure students are both academically and practically prepared for work within technically and creatively driven industries with well-known companies – including Sony – and local employers helping to set the college’s curriculum and offer work experience and mentoring to pupils.

In January, the first students will move into the college’s new £9 million digital skills building which will be dedicated to innovation and digital technology, with a high tech Fab Lab offering digital printing to fast track innovation and development. The new building will be home to enterprise, media, coding, visual arts and content creation, bringing together the creative and technical skills the digital economy demands.

Principal of Oldham College, Alun Francis, said they were thrilled at the response they’d had from the region’s employers:

“Our focus will be on digital and creative industries, as they are vital growth sectors in Greater Manchester, and are expected to generate over 23,000 jobs in the next decade.

“The Digital Career College will bring a different approach to 14-19 education and training in this sector. The close involvement of employers will ensure that the curriculum is relevant to the labour market and students will acquire the specialist skills and knowledge they will need to secure employment or set up their own business.”

Career Colleges were set up last year to take advantage of the Government’s decision to allow FE colleges to recruit at 14, increasing the range and choice of opportunities for 14-19 year olds. A Career College provides the opportunity to combine academic and vocational studies within a specific industry specialism, improving career prospects for young people in the local labour market.

The body overseeing them, the Career Colleges Trust, has granted licences for two such colleges to open this Autumn, both in the North West. Hugh Baird College in Bootle, Liverpool will also be opening a Catering and Hospitality Career College.