Reaseheath College and its University Centre are among high performing local colleges to benefit from the latest round of government investment to boost higher level technical skills and innovation through newly formed Institutes of Technology (IoTs).

IoTs are collaborations of specialist colleges, universities and employers who work together to reform and deliver the higher levels of technical education and skills required by progressive, modern businesses. The initiative is part of the government’s plan to ensure employers get the skilled workforce they need in priority sectors such as agri-technology, sustainable food production and environmental management. In turn this will boost local, regional and national productivity.

Reaseheath is within an IoT collaboration with Cheshire College South and West, Warrington and Vale Royal College, Macclesfield College, Priestley College, the University of Chester, and employers within the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) region.

The Cheshire and Warrington IoT was approved by the Department for Education just before Christmas and awarded over £13m of funding, to be invested in state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and resources across its college members.

Cheshire College South and West has been appointed lead organisation and employer partners include Warrington and Halton NHS Trust, Case New Holland, Alderley Technology Park and Encirc, a sustainable producer of glass containers.

Reaseheath will use its funding to support and expand its higher technical qualifications (typically Levels 4 and 5) in areas such as agri-technology, precision agriculture, rural innovation, sustainable land management and food security. Increased emphasis will be put on higher apprenticeships, degrees and flexible courses for adults looking to reskill or upskill.

Capital investment into the college’s commercial farm, agri-technology centre and Food Innovation Centre will integrate further state-of- the-art technologies, machinery and equipment including GPS and robotic systems for data collection and research.

The college and university teams of vocational and academic experts will be expanded and current lecturers will be supported with a unique ‘return to industry’ programme to ensure they are at the forefront of developments within their sector.

Welcoming the announcement, Reaseheath Principal and CEO Marcus Clinton said: “This investment will help us to deliver what the economy and our communities need and to ensure that our students have the best possible career prospects.

“By putting employers at the heart of the curriculum development and delivery, we know that we can react quickly to the evolving technical skills needs of our business partners and help them to remain at the forefront of industry developments. We will also be ensuring our students are fully work ready and able to address local skills gaps.”

Clare Hayward MBE, Chair of Cheshire and Warrington LEP added: “I am delighted with the award of this investment, which is evidence of the excellent collaboration between the colleges, businesses and the LEP and demonstrates confidence in our region.

“It enables us to support our colleges in providing skills for the future in a world class environment, and also to further support businesses in building their workforce with the skilled employees they need for growth.”

Member of Parliament for Eddisbury, Edward Timpson CBE, commented: “This is great news and is a real vote of confidence in Reaseheath College by the Government.

“Institutes of Technology are a key part of our ambitious wider technical education reforms, and it’s fantastic to see Eddisbury benefiting from this new approach — both in terms of policy and pounds invested.

“This £13 million funding award will widen access to higher level technical education for learners from under-represented groups in Cheshire, helping young people to truly fulfil their potential.

“I look forward to working with Reaseheath’s Principal Marcus Clinton and college leaders across Cheshire on their ambitious plans to expand higher technical qualifications, in which significant Government investment has already been made.”