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College merger will be boost to Worcestershire's economy

Worcester Editorial 8th Aug, 2014 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

THE PRINCIPAL of the newly-formed Heart of Worcestershire College believes it can play a key role in making the county “a more desirable place” for businesses to grow.

Worcester College of Technology started a new era last Friday (August 1) when it officially merged with North East Worcestershire (NEW) College.

The move sees its principal Stuart Laverick head up the Heart of Worcestershire (HOW) College which will be based at the Deansway site with further campuses in Redditch and Bromsgrove.

Speaking to the Observer, the 50-year-old described the partnership as a “match made in heaven” as he said he and John Callaghan, who recently stepped down as principal of NEW College, had the same ambitions to create more opportunities for their students.

“Over the last few years, we worked and shared a variety of services, looked at capital projects together and realised that the message coming out of the business community was actually ‘we like the way you work’,” he said.

“It became pretty obvious there were opportunities for us to pull in more funding and to be more accessible and make ourselves more easily understood.

“Yes, life would have been easier if we hadn’t merged, but it is not about being easy it is about making an impact, so by coming together we can do more interesting things during what are challenging times.”

Mr Laverick said the college, which is expected to have turnover of £40million, will not only be able to fill the skills gap, but also boost the local economy and attract big name companies to the county.

“We will be able to put Worcestershire on the map in terms of being somewhere where there is innovation and there are people who are passionate about learning,” he added.

“If we are visible then that has got to be good for the county and businesses which are looking to come into Worcestershire.

“When people say to me ‘how come Hitachi set up its production in County Durham,’ I say ‘it is because the whole of the north east came together’ to make it work.

“This is a cracking part of the UK and has got great links in Europe and wider, so there are real opportunities for existing businesses to grow.

“As a big college we can now work with other big colleges to make that happen and that makes the region a more desirable place.

“You can set up a big factory with machines in it, but what you need is the talent to make that work.

“Around here there is a long tradition of very creative thinking and we haven’t lost that, so that ability to work hard, think laterally and develop new ways of doing things makes us attractive and that is what we are excited about.”

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