NMITE to build Skills Hub12 February 2024
NMITE’s commitment to and investment in improving Hereford’s environment and opportunities for economic growth has reached a new milestone with planning permission now submitted for The Future of Work Skills Hub (The Skills Hub). The Skills Hub building will be located on NMITE’s Blackfriars campus, bringing innovation and entrepreneurship into the heart of Herefordshire’s future. NMITE’s Hereford campus is already home to the Centre for Advanced Timber Technology (CATT).
Backed by over £2m in capital funding from the government’s Towns Fund, The Skills Hub is a core element of the broader Stronger Hereford programme – an exciting initiative firmly focused on making Hereford a better place to live, learn, work and visit.
The Skills Hub, with its focus on developing skills for Herefordshire, is built around three core themes: innovation, entrepreneurship, and future skills development, helping to prepare local businesses and individuals for the future of work, whether that is upskilling, reskilling or developing entrepreneurial and innovative skills. With AI and immersive reality already changing the world of work, NMITE’s new centre will play a leading role in convening pioneers and practitioners of these new technologies and converting the skills learnt to productive economic use and drive business success in the county.
Built to the highest sustainability standards and designed to be open to everyone, The Skills Hub will be located on the corner of Blackfriars Street and Widemarsh Street and will be for school leavers, career-shifters, businesses and entrepreneurs to realise their potential. Construction work is due to start this year once planning permission has been received, with the building scheduled to open in spring 2025. Described by James Newby, NMITE’s president and chief executive as “a test bed facility for innovation, a futuristic space that enables a feeling of walking into the future with excitement and confidence rather than fear and uncertainty”, The Skills Hub has been expertly designed by local firm Arbor Architects.
“Our aim is to revolutionise upskilling, reskilling and to address the skills gaps for the current employment environment and for work in the future.,” said Mr Newby. “The Skills Hub will help new entrepreneurs get started - raising aspirations and supporting the creation of new jobs in the local area. The centre will help power local economic growth.”
“NMITE has always had at its core a real mission to deliver economic benefit to Herefordshire,” said Professor Gary C Wood, NMITE’s interim chief academic officer and an expert in this area. “We are applying the same rigour in our approach to developing skills for local people and businesses that we always have for our students. We want our impact on the local economy to be real and based on evidence.”
NMITE is no stranger to creating new, award-winning buildings and educational programmes as exemplified by the Skylon campus garnering Construction Excellence regional and national accolades for best value and social value, respectively. This track record of creating impactful learning spaces along with delivering the BE-ST Green Skills 2023 award winning courses for sustainable built environment are reflective of NMITE’s commitment to excellence and its forward-thinking vision. This approach to meeting the local skills needs is now recognised at UK government policy level and will ensure a promising outcome for The Skills Hub in contributing to Hereford’s ongoing innovation, growth and impact beyond the region.
The impact of The Skills Hub is already being felt with the delivery of its first Innovation Support Programme and there are other events and courses in the pipeline including a major Future of Work Conference in May. The Innovation Support Programme is a six-month programme in partnership with Innovate UK which was launched in December. It has been designed for local businesses and SMEs in Herefordshire that want to grow their business and innovate, whether that is via new products, services or processes. Businesses get one-to-one engagement and mentoring with continued support from Innovate UK after completing the programme.
Lahari Parchuri, Future of Work Skills Hub Development Lead at NMITE explains: "Our role is to encourage, inspire and support local businesses and residents to take ownership of their future. Advancement in technologies such as artificial intelligence and immersive realities are fundamentally changing the world of work. We have an opportunity in Herefordshire to work together and decide what that means for us and our people. We are actively working with the local community and keen to engage even more businesses and people to shape the future of work here in the county, so please get in touch if you want to work together.”
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