It has been four years in the making and represents an investment of close to £2million, but City College’s flagship Centre for Higher Technical Innovation and Maritime Skills (TIMS) is now officially open.
Located at the heart of Plymouth’s marine industry and standing just a stone’s throw from the water, the new teaching site at the Marine Enterprise Zone at Oceansgate marks the start of a new chapter in the College’s ongoing support of Plymouth’s crucial industries.
The new teaching facility is an essential part of the College’s ambitions to support the maritime, engineering, manufacturing, construction and digital technology industries, areas that have been identified as crucial for Plymouth’s future growth. The purpose-built site will enable the College to deliver new courses that are designed to provide employers with the skills and knowledge they will need tomorrow, today.
The project has been largely spearheaded by Lance Chatfield, Executive of Technical Innovation, and Martin Boulter, the College’s Lead for Marine Autonomous Vehicles, who enjoys excellent links with the maritime industry as a highly skilled boat-builder and designer.
Lance said: “The skills shortage and its impact on the maritime and other industries was becoming more and more apparent and it was clear that Plymouth and the South West needed a specific training facility that would address these skills shortages, but also generate the skills needed to drive forward new technologies.
“For quite some time I have been advocating for the College to have a site that is closer to the water’s edge and we looked into building our own site; but we were at the right place at the right time in terms of planning this new site, as Oceansgate phase two was being planned.”
The site, which will be used to deliver the College’s new and highly innovative university-level courses, is an Aladdin’s cave of goodies for those in the marine and manufacturing sectors, with some of the latest and cutting-edge machinery, including a one-of-a-kind Kimla 4 Axis, which has been designed to Martin’s own specifications based on what he knows will benefit local maritime employers. The centre is also home to 3-D printers, a wave tank, and is fully equipped to allow students to engage with their learning from potentially anywhere in the world.
Martin Boulter added: “We have a lot of apprentices who can’t always attend lectures in person – they might be away on ship or stuck on the other side of the UK – but we’ve invested heavily in being able to give students the choice of where they study.
“We are looking at ways of making practical work more accessible, too. For example, our electrical engineering students are able to run circuits they’ve built in class from their own homes as we have connected as much as possible to the internet.”
City College Chief Executive, Jackie Grubb, said: “A new bespoke site such as this has been a long time coming for City College, and it has fitted in perfectly with our vision of being a pillar of support for our local maritime and manufacturing employers. With this site, we will ensure they are being supplied with the highly skilled workforce they require.
“The Centre for Technical Innovation and Maritime Skills shows the levels of investment the College is willing to make in supporting these industries – but this is just the first step. To ensure our curriculum and training remains demand-led, we will continue to develop this site as our employers’ needs change and progress.
“We are delighted and excited to be playing a part in turning the heart of Plymouth’s marine industry into a world-leader for maritime technology.”
Leader of Plymouth City Council, Councillor Nick Kelly said: “Plymouth has always been known around the world for its marine industries and strong engineering history, but we know there’s more potential to unwrap and new opportunities on the horizon with the development of the new Plymouth and South Devon Freezone.
“When we started to develop Oceansgate our aim was to create a purpose-built environment where marine and maritime businesses could flourish and collaborate.
“This new facility is a hugely exciting investment for Plymouth and it’s a natural fit for Oceansgate. City College Plymouth is playing a vital role in helping to mitigate existing gaps in skills and ensure that local residents can benefit from the high value jobs that the marine industry brings to the city.