Leadership group set up to drive forward Highland Science Academy

The move brings together The Highland Council, Skills Development Scotland (SDS), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and the University of the Highlands and Islands in a landmark partnership that will deliver a new and innovative programme of work-based learning, ranging from pre-school to higher education. 

Initiated by The Highland Council, the leadership group comprises Councillor Drew Hendry, Council Leader; John McClelland, SDS chairman;  Professor Lorne Crerar, Chairman of HIE; Diane Rawlinson, Principal and Chief Executive of Inverness College UHI;   Dr Michael Foxley, Further Education Regional Lead; and retired surgeon, Professor  Alasdair Munro, Chairman of the Centre for Health Science,  who was involved in the development of a paper introducing the Highland Science Academy concept.

The Science Academy is set to bring new thinking to how education, skills and training are delivered across the Highlands and Islands. One of the key aims is to develop a new generation of highly qualified workers for the IT, life sciences and engineering industries with a specific target of encouraging more female participants in these fields.

Although led by The Highland Council with the initial presence in Inverness, the current partners are keen to engage with local councils across the Highlands and Islands to ensure that the benefits from the project are realised across the region. 

As part of the project, IT company Fujitsu is proposing to carry out a pilot study on bringing high performance computing to the region which would make the infrastructure one of the best in the UK and help attract new jobs to the region.

It is proposed that the Science Academy will have a footprint on the Inverness Campus exploiting state of the art technology to engage digitally across  the region and enabling close links with education, academia and commercial research and development organisations.

Councillor Hendry said: "This is a hugely imaginative and exciting development. Together with our partners we will work to co-ordinate and deliver a whole range of positive impacts.

"We are extremely pleased that SDS see the Highland Science Academy as an important project. Their participation and delivery at the heart of what we're doing will be invaluable.

"Already we are looking at a new model for delivery of work-based education and this is garnering private sector support. As a consequence we expect new jobs to be attracted to the area, interest in city centre development and commitment to bringing IT infrastructure advances to the region.”

John McClelland added: "The Highland Science Academy project is one that will bring far-reaching benefits for generations of people in the region and beyond. It is already inspiring fresh thinking in education and will stimulate a range of public and private organisations to bring top quality expertise and jobs to this part of the world."

Professor Crerar said: " HIE is committed to the development of a Science Academy aimed at  engaging and enthusing young people about a possible career in the life sciences, energy, engineering and IT  industries. The new Academy will ensure young people have access to skills and knowledge to help them make the most of career opportunities and continue their progress when in work.  It will also ensure the development of a highly skilled and flexible workforce to meet the future demands of employers across the region and beyond.

"A location on the Inverness Campus shared with HIE and the University of the Highlands and Islands will establish a centre for effective collaboration between the worlds of education, academia and business. This development is not just going to benefit the wider Inverness area, but young people and employers across the Highlands and Islands. "

Jim Brophy, Fujitsu's Client Director, said: "We are keen to build our business in Scotland and see the Highlands as an ideal location to bring investment. We are attracted by the potential of a Highland Science Academy and the partnership between The Highland Council, Skills Development Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the University of the Highlands and Islands."   

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24 Mar 2014
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