Inspiring our community through learning for all - and bringing prosperity to all

Torbay Weekly

If the last two years have taught us anything, it is to appreciate our natural surroundings and the power of a supportive community.

Living in Torbay, we are incredibly lucky to be able to access some of the UK’s best coast and countryside, offering such potential as an incredible place to live, work and learn. I live in Brixham and it has been a joy to see visitors returning to the Bay during half term and to see our well-loved hospitality industry doing what it does best.

But we need to be realistic about the challenges we face as a community, which sadly still includes deprivation and child poverty. As we emerge from the social and economic impact of the pandemic, now is the time to pull together and act to affect change. It is within our collective power to turn the tide on poverty by creating opportunities for people of all ages to equip themselves with the necessary knowledge and skills to enter meaningful and well-paid careers, right here in Torbay.

For those that do not know us, South Devon College is the third largest employer in Torbay with over 700 staff supporting our learners. We have around 10,000 students a year coming through our door. These are students of all ages, with over a quarter aged between 14 and 18. The understanding that these young people are our future, is at the heart of everything we do.

The College offers courses for all ages and all levels, from our High School for students of 14-16, right through to degree level study at our University Centre. We are also working in close partnership with three Paignton schools within the BET Academy to deliver a 2 to 22+ vision; to provide an all-through, seamless education journey for the Bay’s children and young people, from ages 2 to 22 and beyond.

Our focus is always on positive progress and employability. We are the bridge between Torbay’s young people, and employers. We work with over 1,000 businesses and employers every year in all sectors and of all sizes, helping them to thrive by ensuring their employees, now and in the future, have the skills, knowledge and behaviours they need to succeed.

An important part of this relationship is offering state of the art facilities in the heart of Torbay to provide outstanding education and real-life learning experiences. Opened in 2019, our £17m Hi Tech & Digital Centre provides training for the booming manufacturing, engineering and digital sector, including Torbay’s Hi Tech Cluster, which is expanding rapidly, creating new jobs and leading the way in specialist industries like photonics.

We have just opened the doors of our brand new South Devon Marine Academy at Noss-on-Dart, to continue to provide skills in marine and maritime industries and to develop a pipeline of employees into a fast-moving industry that has been the lifeblood of our community for centuries. At our University Centre in Paignton, the College’s state of the art simulation suite provides a class leading training facility for health and care professionals to support the needs of the NHS, as well as private care providers.

The College plays an important role in securing Government investment for training initiatives, such as the Health and Social Care Skills Accelerator Programme – a funded suite of courses for adults looking to secure a career in an industry crying out for a passionate and committed workforce.

The Community Renewal Fund has just given us almost £300,000 dedicated to providing the skills and expertise needed to support our famous hospitality sector to ensure we can continue to attract the essential income from our visitor economy, as well as providing business support to employers in the equally vital construction and photonics sectors.

I am proud to be a part of this campaign that will raise awareness of the world class products and services being developed right on our doorstep and celebrate everything Torbay and South Devon has to offer. Over the next 12 months, we look forward to sharing with you news of more learning opportunities for you to grab, enriching the lives of you and your families, or to help your business prosper, to bring greater prosperity for our economy and for individuals who live here.

Laurence Frewin,  
Principal and CEO at South Devon College