East Coast College joins educational partnership in Norfolk and Suffolk to look to solve digital skills gap


East Coast College has united with educational establishments from Norfolk and Suffolk to look at ways of closing skills gaps in digital industries across the region.

A key highlight of the project saw the launch of a Digital Futures Conference held at The Hold in Ipswich. This occasion saw education, skills and business experts hear top talks from leading practitioners in education and the digital industries.

Suffolk New College organised the conference working alongside colleagues at East Coast College, City College Norwich, the College of West Anglia, and West Suffolk College, together with East Norfolk Sixth Form College and the University of Suffolk.

This event is one of many events and projects taking place thanks to the Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF) that created a £4.7m windfall for this group last year.

The cash is being used to invest in facilities and support teaching and learning, while also helping equip the students of tomorrow with the skills they need to be successful whilst working in the region’s key sectors, including the digital sector and in green skills roles. The project also trains staff within education to get a better understanding of how technology can transform learning.

Work is also being carried out with businesses in the east to get a further understanding of their future workforce needs.

Lee Nevill representing East Coast College.

Alan Pease, the CEO and Principal of Suffolk New College, opened the event by welcoming over 90 delegates to this occasion before handing over to the chair, Stephen Frampton.

Stephen is the former president of the Association of Colleges (AoC) and the founder of SF4FE – a not for profit student awards organisation that specialises in sustainability.

Stephen said: “This conference has brought together artificial intelligence and sustainability and builds on the work that was achieved last year by this dynamic group of educational establishments that culminated in a national AoC Beacon Award for Sustainability for Suffolk New College. The future is green skills and digital skills so the conference and ongoing project is all based around equipping staff, learners and communities with the tools to ensure businesses have a workforce in place that meets their needs.”

One of the key organisers of this event is Emma Taylor, the Director of Business Development and Major Projects at Suffolk New College.

Emma said: “It is fantastic that we have been given this funding from the Department for Education to collaborate and bring people together in this way. This conference builds on the work we did together in 2023 when we held a green skills conference with the same partners that has accelerated teaching and investment in green skills training.

“It was brilliant to be able to bring together all the FE and HE partners in the LSIF project as well as key stakeholders from industry and the wider skills and training sector. We are looking forward to showcasing other investments from the funding over the next year and highlighting the benefits to thousands of learners.”

Lee Nevill, Teaching and Learning Manager at East Coast College, said: “This is helping drive our digital strategy. Working together works and I’m proud of what is being achieved.”

Guest speakers at the event were Jason Holt CEO of Metaverse Learning, Susi Bauer (a games industry trainer) Chris Filip (from Game Anglia), James Hayden (Basingstoke College of Technology) and James Parker (USP College).