Accrington and Rossendale College has teamed up with risual Limited and Microsoft, to launch the North West’s first risual Microsoft Academy, based at the College’s state-of-the-art Heartwood Centre.

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The risual Digital Academy, the only one of its kind in Lancashire, launched to employers, students and staff at the college on Thursday 8 September 2016. Guest speakers shared their inspiring vision of digital skills growth across Lancashire, followed by specialist workshops for employers and students in the new showcase classrooms, kitted out with the latest Microsoft technology.

The Digital Academy will provide a wide range of digital training opportunities which will drive the growth of digital skills across Lancashire. Apprenticeships are at the heart of the Academy provision, and will include Microsoft specialist units. Students across the College will have access to the Academy, which will support the embedding of digital skills across all subject areas. All our students will have the opportunity to gain Microsoft specialist qualifications. The Academy will also provide a diverse range of training programmes for businesses across Lancashire, which will upskill the existing workforce and keep our businesses at the leading edge of their industries.

All Academy programmes will be delivered by lead industry specialists from risual alongside our Microsoft trained college tutors. Staff in each of our subject areas are being trained by industry experts to become Microsoft Certified Educators.

College Principal Sue Taylor commented, “We are very excited to be working alongside Microsoft and risual on such a fantastic venture. I believe the Digital Academy will be a real catalyst for the growth of digital skills across our region. We know many of our employers, across all sectors, struggle to recruit and retain staff with high level digital skills. The Academy directly addresses the Lancashire Economic Partnership priority to improve digital skills in the region and drive economic growth.

The Academy is a state-of-the-art facility, with an ambitious vision for the future. It will greatly enhance the employment and career opportunities of our learners and apprentices, and at the same time provide employers with the skills and talent they need to thrive in a digital world.”

Richard Proud, Director of risual commented, “We are overjoyed to be working with Accrington and Rossendale College in the Lancashire LEP.  The support and passion from the College and the LEP really demonstrates the commitment of the region to developing digital skills.  risual Microsoft Academies are proactively working to offer relevant digital apprenticeships delivered by academic and industry experts to reverse engineer the digital skills gap.”

Lisa Moizer, Manager, Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub, said: “Improving the skills of Lancashire’s workforce is an important part of the Lancashire Economic Partnership’s ambitious strategic programme to transform the county and drive economic growth over the next decade.  The digital sector is a significant priority, Lancashire businesses are telling us that there is a high demand for up-to-date digital skills and so the investment in the risual Academy is an exciting opportunity to meet this demand by investing in young people and growing the digital talent pool.”

“The LEP is investing around £30m in Growth Deal Skills funds to build new, modern training facilities, upgrade existing facilities and buy new equipment for centre’s such as The Accrington and Rossendale risual Digital Academy. This substantial investment will enable thousands of local people all across Lancashire to learn new skills, engage with apprenticeships, progress in work, and achieve economic well-being over the next few years.”