Central Sussex College recently celebrated the launch of its new Information Technology (IT) Academy at the College’s Crawley campus with a hands-on event for local employers, organisations and students.
The event marked the completion of a project that transformed the ground floor of an existing college building into a modern, interactive learning environment complete with cutting-edge technology and software.
Ash Merchant, one of the UK’s leading experts on ICT in Education and Director of Education at Fujitsu UK and Ireland, gave an engaging and inspiring speech during the launch, detailing his journey into the industry and noting the positive impact that facilities like the IT Academy have on the lives of students from all backgrounds and on UK businesses.
Fujitsu runs an education ambassador programme that aims to drive change in education through technology, which is essential to the adoption and integration of IT in the sector. As Merchant explained, “Statistics tell us that today there are 1.5 million jobs in STEM related activities but only 400,000 students following that path of study. Centres such as the IT Academy are instrumental in helping to inspire new generations of young people to enter these essential fields and to combat the skills shortages that we are facing.
“For me, this event is a pinnacle of a meeting where I was first introduced to Central Sussex College and its ambitions for what it wants to create for young people, and I’m very, very privileged to be here.”
Henry Smith, Member of Parliament for Crawley and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Education, Women and Equalities, also spoke passionately at the event saying, “There’s a large skills gap not only in the local area, but nationally, and Central Sussex College, again augmented and enhanced by this IT Academy and the fantastic input that Fujitsu have been putting in, will help us to go further to ensure that local young people are entering the STEM industries and filling this skills gap.
“We are in a new industrial era and Central Sussex College are, with this new IT Academy, equipping our local young people in the very best way.”
Following the speeches, attendees were encouraged to enter into the immersive world of virtual reality using Oculus Rifts and to have-a-go at gaming and programming using a mixture of large LCD touchscreens, tablets and gaming computers, as well as touring the impressive specialist Microsoft and Cisco suites and other dedicated computer areas in the IT Academy.
VIPs and guests were invited to explore the range of opportunities that the IT Academy offers, from the development of digital and technological skills to meet local employer needs, through to the enhancement of specialist skills granting local students entry to employment, university and further study.
Deputy CEO at the College, Kim Morton, commented “The IT Academy and the Advanced Technology Centre are the beginning of our STEM vision and strategy for the College in line with industry requirements. Using various partnerships we will endeavour to continue to deliver further developments such as these that will enable us to provide critical solutions to skills gaps seen within the local community and nationally”.
Applications are still open for full time and part computing, IT and media courses at Central Sussex College’s Crawley campus.For more information and to apply, visit www.centralsussex.ac.uk/apply