Merrist Wood College has received a share of a £2.6m grant that has been awarded through the Government’s Strategic Development Fund (SDF).
The project’s focus is to help further education colleges in Hampshire and Surrey update training facilities and upskill local people on new green technologies in order to meet the skills needs of local businesses and to support growth in green industries.
This includes a range of free-to-access online short courses on the Innovation South Virtual Campus (ISVC).
Agriculture is one of the most vulnerable sectors to the impacts of climate change and is accountable for 10% of UK greenhouse emissions.
Perhaps it’s no surprise the UK Government is focused on developing industry resilience and improving practices through new technology and innovative farming and land management practices to make this vital industry more sustainable.
Merrist Wood College has been awarded £194k which has been used to provide the college witha wide range of new green specialist agriculture and arboriculture equipment including a cattle crush, a hay grain steamer,soil analysers, vertical planting systems, a sheep scanner as well as field mappingdrones – all of which will be used to improve and upskill people working in these industries across the region.
This equipment mirrors the technological developments seen within the industry and tool up students withthe necessary skills to help the industry become more sustainable.
The grant has also enabled the college to invest inan electrictractor as well as a state of the art composter which aligns perfectly with the college’s sustainability key driver and will play an important part in training the next generation of land-based employees.
Alongside this, Merrist Wood is also collaborating with Sparsholt College and will be providing land based short courses in Arboriculture, Conservation Land Management, Sustainable Resource Management, Sustainable Agricultural Systems and Sustainability for Farming.
Each of these courses will be self-directed learning, delivered through the Innovation South Virtual Campus, online platform and will be available later this Spring.
The courses have been designed to: provide the latest land based green tech skills to support the upskilling and reskilling of local people, help local people secure high-skilled jobs and meet the needs of the local land based labour market and drive stronger, employer collaboration to enhance long term innovation and enterprise.
Merrist Wood College Director, Laura Asbridge, said:
“We are delighted to have been given the opportunity to provide new state-of-the-art technologies that ensure our learners are prepared for emerging green jobs that are becoming more prevalent in the labour marketand also toaid in the hands-on learningexperience ofour present and future land-based students.
“This vital funding ensures that Merrist Wood College continues to offer innovative training facilities at the forefront of modern technology and remains a first-choice destination for learners wishing to train withhi-tech, specialist green equipment used in land-based industries”.