Gavin Williamson: Dudley university centre can transform region
Gavin Williamson has hailed a new university centre as "truly transformative" for the West Midlands.
The Education Secretary said new investment in hi-tech training centering around Dudley would help bridge the region's skills gap over the coming years.
He was speaking on a visit to Dudley College, which is building a new university site focusing on digital skills off Tipton Road with the help of Government funding.
The project, which has been backed by MPs Ian Austin and Mike Wood, as well as Dudley Council, has seen the town become one of 12 institutes of technology based around the country.
It also includes an Autonomous Vehicle Hub, while £25 million from the Government's town's fund has been earmarked for the final part of the scheme.
Speaking on a visit to the college's Advance Campus on Priory Road, Mr Williamson said the scheme was "truly transformative" in terms of training people in "cutting edge skills and technologies to create the workforce of the future".
"The Government is investing £25 million into the institute here in Dudley," he added. "This is a major opportunity and it is great to see it happening in Dudley. It benefits the rest of the Black Country, Staffordshire and going into Shropshire as well."
On the university centre, he added: "It's a massive boost for young people as well as people who are in their career and want to up-skill."
Dudley North MP Mr Austin said: "In the Black Country we have lost loads of jobs in traditional industries and we we have struggled to attract new investment and new jobs to replace them.
"This university centre is going to enable us to bring new jobs in advanced manufacturing, low carbon technologies, autonomous vehicles, healthcare technologies, digital media... good, new well paid jobs that people in the Black Country need.
"It is going to regenerate a derelict site. It's just what the area needs."
Mr Austin said Dudley College had already transformed parts of the town and that the new site would help bring in investment from all over the world.
"It is not just about regenerating Dudley, it is about bringing the skills that we need so we can attract the new investment and the good, new well paid jobs for the prosperity of the Black Country," he said.
Dudley South MP Mr Wood said the centre would boost the job opportunities for the region.
"This has the potential to really change the way that people in the Black Country think about education and what they can actually achieve in the future.
"Dudley College have done an absolutely amazing job of transforming the college over the last decade or so, and really transforming Dudley town centre in such a way that it is now unrecognisable to how it was 14-20 years ago.
"The visible change, with buildings going up and the plans for the other side of town, makes such a big difference and has changed the way that people feel about coming into our area."