COLLEGES in Worcester and Redditch will merge by next year in a bid to improve training for businesses and increase opportunities for students.
Worcester College of Technology and North East Worcestershire College, which has sites in Bromsgrove and Redditch, announced in July they were exploring creating a closer link between the two organisations.
Consultants KPMG were asked to look at the different options and recommended a merger into a new organisation which was approved by both colleges.
A further phase of consultation and investigation will now take place but college chiefs say they want to move quickly to avoid unnecessary uncertainty.
The aim is to implement the changes by the start of September 2014.
Stuart Laverick, principal at Worcester College of Technology, has welcomed the possible merger as he believes it will not only offer students a wider choice of courses and resources but also put the college in a better position to increase its income.
“It became clear to us that there were opportunities out there which if we stayed separate would not be available to us as we would not have the financial management capacity to achieve them,” he said.
“There will be opportunities to share some of our specialist recourses, for example in Redditch there is the Harley Davidson centre, while we have got a particularly strong team which have developed a lot of apprenticeship work.
“It is one of the key reasons for the merger because if we don’t come together we won’t be able to afford or justify those special resources because on our own we probably won’t be big enough.”
Colleges are currently struggling under the weight of government spending cuts and increased competition but Mr Laverick said saving money was not the reason behind the changes.
“There is no question that there has been some difficult decisions made over the last few years, but both organisations were viable going forward,” he said.
“However, it is not just about being viable as our mission is to make sure we provide the best possible services for our different communities, so the reasons we are coming together isn’t because we have to.
“This is a genuine merger of very similar sized organisations with very similar values that are interested in developing Worcestershire and the economy.”
A name for the new organisation has yet to be decided, but Mr Laverick said they will be looking to create a strong “Worcestershire brand” which can compete with colleges across the country.
He added: “As well as being a strong provider of provider of services for our county, a merger would put us in a strong position nationally and, who knows, maybe even internationally.”