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Dover Technical College students have helped launch a partnership between East Kent Colleges Group (EKC Group) and a major STEM hub, which is set to inspire more of East Kent’s young people to experience a career in science, technology, engineering and maths.
The Group has struck an alliance with Discovery Park, the 220-acre science and technology campus near Sandwich which hosts over 150 companies employing more than 3,500 people.
Altogether, EKC Group supports 15,000 students across six community colleges in Ashford, Dover, Canterbury, Folkestone, Swale and Thanet, plus EKC Training, which provides Apprenticeships, community learning, employability provision and prison education.
EKC Group recently became the first General Further Education provider in the country to be graded ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted across all the assessed categories.
Graham Razey OBE, Chief Executive Officer of EKC Group, said: “With many local employers saying they are struggling to fill critical positions in a range of key sector areas, this is a timely opportunity for EKC Group to work in closer collaboration with Discovery Park and engage them with our outstanding students.
“It will also give young people across the East Kent area the opportunity to demonstrate the skills they have developed within our family of colleges, with genuinely inspirational learning experiences across the park. As a leading life sciences hub, this partnership also offers a significant opportunity for science students who may well aspire to be the next crop of talent within Discovery Park. We have already seen Dover Technical College engineering students engaged in a real-life project for Discovery Park, and that gives them the opportunity to develop their skills in a way that ensures when they progress from us, they are ready to take the next step, whether that’s building their careers or progressing into higher education.”
Mayer Schreiber, Chief Executive Officer at Discovery Park added: “We’ve always seen EKC Group as one of the country’s most forward-thinking education providers and the outstanding Ofsted results confirm this. We’re delighted to have joined forces with them to help their students get practical hands-on experience in a professional work environment and to help them make connections with many of the companies on site here.”
The partnership’s first practical demonstration is an engineering project, where students used 3D printing to design and produce approximately 1,000 floorplate covers for use in Discovery Park’s offices and laboratories.
Mayer Schreiber added: “This first project is an excellent example of how we are all benefitting from collaboration.
“Our facilities team had identified a need and worked directly with the lecturers and students at EKC Group. Many of the floorplates covering our electrical sockets had come to the end of their lives, leading to health and safety issues. Thanks to the students, we have now a solution to a real-life issue and they have gained valuable, practical experience which will hopefully enhance their future job prospects and employability.”
EKC Group’s students will have the opportunity to work with companies on site at Discovery Park, which is one of the largest R&D facilities in Europe and one of just six Life Science Opportunity Zones established across the UK.
The new partnership will provide students with the opportunity to work with companies involved in life sciences and medtech, agritech and environmental sciences, engineering and professional services.