Pershore College will be leading the way in agri-tech with the support of £500,000 from Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
Agri-tech is the use of technology in agriculture and horticulture with the aim of improving yield, efficiency and profitability. The £500,000 investment from Worcestershire LEP, through the Government’s Growth Deal, enables WCG to launch a groundbreaking initiative with an Agri-tech STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) centre based at Pershore College.
The project addresses current and pressing skills shortages in agriculture and horticulture that act as a barrier to innovation and growth for this important sector in Worcestershire. A new applications laboratory and live field-based experimentation and demonstration facility will enable the college, local horticultural businesses and students to work together on industry challenges involving the application of innovative technologies.
The dedicated agri-tech applications laboratory will house electronic, robotic and computer based technologies that will be used to educate and train students and employers on modern applications of agri-tech and provide a centre for simulation of application. The room will also serve as the ‘control hub’ for accessing information from the external applications across the various growing facilities at the college and remotely controlling operations. Technology will be deployed across the Pershore College growing areas to experiment, test and demonstrate innovation and automation across a wide variety of settings.
Alongside this, the project will enable the development of a suite of “Horticulture Technology and Innovation” courses and will embed technology focused learning into all Pershore College programmes to attract more new entrants to the industry and allow progression from school through to higher education, employment routes and apprenticeships. This specialist suite of programmes will deliver training in higher level skills to provide technology experts for the agriculture and horticulture industries.
The new STEM-focused facility will also enable the college to develop and deliver a programme of support for schools to raise awareness of agriculture and horticulture as high-tech, highly-skilled industries, again encouraging more new entrants to the industry in the longer term.
Professor Roy Kennedy is leading the agri-tech programme at Pershore College. He said, “This investment from the LEP is vital to ensure we have the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities needed for our students to become the skilled workforce of the future.
“Importantly, Pershore’s agri-tech centre will also be a resource for industry, where businesses can come and be trained in innovative technologies and work with students on projects to help develop solutions to the many challenges facing the agriculture and horticulture sectors.
“Pershore College has a rich heritage and this investment means that we will continue to be at the forefront of land-based education and training in the region.”
Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire LEP said, “Agri-tech is one of Worcestershire’s key sectors for economic growth and our investment into Pershore College will enable our future workforce and local businesses to benefit from the latest innovations. STEM skills are particularly important in supporting the long-term growth of the county’s thriving businesses and the College’s new cutting-edge facilities and equipment will help to provide our younger generations with skills that are relevant for the future.”
For more information about courses at Pershore College, call 0300 456 0049 or go to www.wcg.ac.uk.