Exeter College is delighted to have officially opened its new sector-leading Institute of Technology Digital and Data Centre, a flagship building which will lead the way in helping the South West to drive growth and help to widen opportunities in the industry.

The new Digital and Data Centre at Exeter College will focus on providing employer-led education opportunities in the digital sector, including courses around data analytics, cyber security, software development, Esports and providing training for Apple’s app development.

The Digital and Data Centre was officially opened on Thursday 8 July by Minister Keegan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Apprenticeships and Skills. She said:

“It was an honour to open the South West Institute of Technology Digital and Data Centre at Exeter College. Our Institutes of Technology are the pinnacle of technical education, helping to develop the highly-skilled talent pipeline employers will need for the future.

“By bringing together Further Education colleges, universities and businesses, Institutes of Technology are unique partnerships which will help to tackle skills shortages in vital sectors, from marine engineering to software development.

“The South West Institute of Technology is also playing a vital role in our multi-billion Plan for Jobs, which is helping to level up opportunities and support people from across the region to get the skills they need to progress into exciting careers as we recover from the pandemic.”

Institutes of Technology (IoTs) are a key component of the government’s plans to reform technical education, putting both employer and student needs at the heart of the system. They will provide employers with a skilled workforce and students with a clear route to technical employment.

John Laramy CBE, Exeter College’s Principal and Chief Executive said:

“Exeter College is delighted that our Digital and Data Centre is now open, which forms part of the South West Institute of Technology. This is a vital development for our City and Region, it is critical that we equip our students and apprentices with the skills of the future, that are in such demand from employers.

The South West Institute of Technology (SWIoT) is an innovative collaboration between colleges, universities and employers, with each educational partner aiming to meet the specific skills need of their locality. The Exeter College part focuses on digital skills and alongside the University of Exeter, the college hopes to work in collaboration, to ensure that businesses in and around Exeter can find the talented individuals they need, so that their business can flourish and bounce back from the pandemic. I would like to thank the Met Office and Oxygen House, as our two anchor employers, without their passion and support this new building would not exist. I would also like to thank the wider collaboration for all pulling together in partnership to form the SWIoT.”

The SWIoT draws on expertise from a group of ‘anchor employers’ who will lead its strategic direction and ensure focus on the latest industry skills – they include Oxygen House and the Met Office in Exeter. Met Office Chief Executive Penny Endersby said:

“We’re thrilled to see the new Digital and Data Centre open at Exeter College and provide the region’s learners with more specialist facilities to help people into careers in digital and analytics.

“By being one of the employers working with the South West Institute of Technology, we’ve been able to help ensure that students can learn the skills they need to effectively move into industry and gain careers in hugely exciting areas.

“Digital and data skills are crucial for the workforce of tomorrow and we can’t wait to see the benefits this ambitious collaboration between education and employers will bring, not just to the southwest, but to the country as a whole.”

As part of the official opening, VIP guests and students were invited to have their portrait drawn by robot artists by a company called Kaleider – ‘A Portrait without Borders’. Guests at the event were able to watch the robot artists drawing their portraits – exemplifying a unique use of modern technology.

Students also put together an Apple Mac Museum in the new building’s collaboration room, demonstrating all the developments of Apple products throughout for visitors to enjoy.

Matthew Valence, Exeter College Apprentice in Software Development said: “The computers in the new Digital and Data Centre are very impressive and fast. In this new building thousands of students will be taught in state-of-the-art facilities and it’s really amazing. The course I’m studying now will stand me in good stead to one day work for a big tech company like Google or Apple”.

Fellow student, Joshua Harvey, who will be progressing onto HNC Computing in September added: “I love the design of this new building, it’s modern, well thought out and has amazing technology. The tutors are fantastic and we have a really great team.”