Southern Regional College has given the go-ahead to create a new £45 million campus in Craigavon, completing its £95 million investment plans to open three new, state-of-the-art educational facilities.
Southern Regional College is already advancing the development of two campuses in Armagh and Banbridge as part of the overall investment by the Department for the Economy.
The new landmark campus in Craigavon will support hundreds of new jobs during construction, create more than 350 new local apprenticeship opportunities annually and underpin the college’s status as a major employer in the area.
It is investing £35 million in Armagh and £15 million in Banbridge and work is on schedule and on budget for planned completion in 2020.
The campus will be located adjacent to the new £35 million Craigavon Leisure Centre, which was awarded planning consent in 2017, close to the Craigavon Civic and Conference Centre and Rushmere Shopping Centre.
The new Southern Regional College Craigavon campus has been carefully designed to help transform education provision, providing skills training and courses to support local and regional job creation.
The £45 million direct investment in the Craigavon area will also provide employment opportunities in a range of areas including science, manufacturing, engineering, IT, hospitality and tourism.
Brian Doran, Chief Executive at Southern Regional College said: “Delivering jobs, investment and opportunities, Southern Regional College is committed to delivering a world-class centre for education, training, research, partnership and innovation and our plans for Craigavon fully reflect this.
“Securing planning approval for this flagship project is fantastic news and we are extremely grateful to the many local people and organisations who came forward to provide us with their views and support during the consultation process. Their contribution was invaluable.”
The College campus will occupy a site within an existing area zoned for development and the low-rise building design ensures that the campus comfortably meets immediate and long-term educational and capacity needs.
Brian Doran added: “This significant investment will immediately and positively impact upon our communities and will contribute to the economic prosperity and opportunity for the region.
“The new campus will be open, welcoming and sustainable, featuring a high-quality teaching and learning environment and council approval represents a real step forward in creating one of the most innovative and dynamic educational hubs within the UK and Ireland.”
The new Craigavon campus will provide enhanced full and part-time educational and training opportunities for an even greater number of people within the area. As well as delivering an increased curriculum provision on site, a wider range of degree and postgraduate level courses will be accessed locally.
Higher Level apprenticeship programmes are also in development with local businesses in a variety of areas including science, engineering, accountancy, IT, data analytics, cyber security, construction and food technology.
Welcoming the announcement, David Fry, Executive Assistant Director for the Construction Employers Federation Northern Ireland, said:
“Against a backdrop of a worrying skills shortage, this significant investment in local training and educational development will undoubtedly provide a dramatic, confidence-boosting uplift for the local and regional construction economy, support existing and future employment prospects and deliver real choice and opportunity for local people in their chosen careers.
“Aside from the immediate economic construction benefits which the new Southern Regional College Craigavon campus will create locally, it’s critically important to note the pivotal role which the construction sector plays in Northern Ireland’s economy overall and that every year, at least 1,800 new skilled and trained employees are urgently needed simply to maintain current growth forecasts.
“From bricklayers to professional staff, the £45 million investment pledged will go a long way to address this damaging shortfall in skills while also providing new and exciting opportunities for everyone, including many of our younger people, who may not now be forced to seek opportunities away from home or outside Northern Ireland.
The CEF looks forward to working with all partners in the area to secure the shared benefits from this investment for every individual and every organisation.”
SRC is the largest Further and Higher Education College outside of Belfast, with major educational facilities based in locations including Armagh, Banbridge and Newry. With over 34,000 full and part-time students, these six campuses deliver a wide range of higher level professional and technical courses across a wide area.