THE Blackbird Leys campus of City of Oxford College is to build a second science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) centre after securing a final £4.5m funding boost.

It will build new engineering facilities on the Cuddesdon Way campus, called the Oxfordshire Centre for Technology and Innovation, which will open in the summer of 2017.

This is the second phase of the campus’s STEM development, after £1m of funding was secured from the Oxfordshire Skills Board in April for another centre, which will open in September next year.

Pete Reynolds, curriculum director at the college, said: “It’s really exciting project, it’s going to be absolutely awesome.

“It’s a massive project for Blackbird Leys. It’s a great thing for an area that really needs a lot of investment.

“We’re really proud of our Blackbird Leys site.”

He added: “Our goal is to produce really well-rounded technology engineers. This Oxfordshire Centre for Technology and Innovation will expand what we can offer and increase our capability for those roles.

“There’s huge demand for engineers and we want to provide more skilled workers so that local jobs can go to local people.”

This is the final grant needed for the campus works, bringing the total cost to £7.5m.

The money, from the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, is part of a £108.6m package of Growth Deal measures for the county.

The Oxfordshire Centre for Technology and Innovation will create 120 spaces for apprentices and full-time students every year.

Adrian Lockwood, chairman of the Oxfordshire Skills Board and Local Enterprise Partnership board member said he was “delighted”, adding: “Innovation-led growth is at the heart of the Oxfordshire’s ambition and to service that growth we need a well- skilled workforce to support employers.

“Young people should be aware of the huge opportunities available locally in well-paid STEM-based careers.

“This STEM centre will help equip them with the skills required to move into really good jobs, available locally.”

Chief executive of Activate Learning Sally Dicketts said: “STEM job roles are at the top of the priority list requiring additional skills provision. It is essential that we generate extra capacity and a higher quality training infrastructure to support the county’s strategic economic aims.”

The centre is due to be completed by September 2015. Its construction coincides with the City of Oxford College’s career college, which will open its doors to 14-year-olds next September.

Funded by the Department for Education, the career college will have construction courses alongside GCSEs in maths, English and science.

Business owners near the campus are looking forward to the new building being opened.

Aileen Devaney is the manager of Nash’s Bakery in nearby Blackbird Leys Road.

She said: “It’s great for us, because more students means more trade. In the mornings during their breaks we’re heaving in here. It’s brilliant. The more the merrier, they’re all good kids, too.”

Jill Winston, who works at the Delteys Supermarket next door, agreed, but joked: “We’re busy enough during the school run."

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