Brand new laboratories have been unveiled at the Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor campuses in Dolgellau and Pwllheli, as part of a £1.9m project to improve science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) facilities for college students.
Grŵp Llandrillo Menai secured Magnox/Nuclear Decommissioning Authority funding towards an ambitious project to upgrade 10 laboratories across three of its campuses.
£386,034 from Magnox/NDA is being invested by the LabSTEM project to modernise facilities at Dolgellau, Pwllheli and Llangefni, with the remainder of the funding package provided by the Welsh Government’s 21st Schools and Colleges Programme and Grŵp Llandrillo Menai.
Three science laboratories at both the Dolgellau and Pwllheli sites have been refurbished and upgraded with the latest technology. A further laboratory will also be created on the Marian Mawr campus in Dolgellau to accommodate robotics and electrical engineering facilities.
Similar improvements are planned at the Coleg Menai campus in Llangefni and other initiatives, such as enhancement of curriculum and collaboration with other organisations, is also taking place.
The aim of LabSTEM is to enhance the learning environment and improve learners’ experience, attract a greater number of 16 year-olds – in particular girls – to study Science and Engineering, and extend the curriculum offer in STEM subjects such as Mechanical/Electrical Engineering and Robotics/Electronics.
As well as providing college learners with the world-class facilities, the project will also form part of the STEM development landscape in North West Wales by providing locations for activities arranged by other organisations and contributing to a co-ordinated sub-regional STEM initiative.
Speaking at the official opening of the Dolgellau laboratories, Aled Jones-Griffith, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Coleg Menai Principal, explained why the project is so important:
“LabSTEM will provide learners at Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor and Coleg Menai with sector-leading learning environments and opportunities that will enhance their learning. This will bring huge benefits to learners, employers and the wider economy.
“The demand for young people who have studied STEM subjects at Level 3 and above, be that academic or vocational, is growing and expected to grow further. It’s been quoted that 75% of all jobs in the UK over the next decade will require STEM knowledge and skills.”
He added: “The requirement for STEM employees is just as strong here in North Wales, and while planned large scale developments at Wylfa Newydd have stalled, a significant number of other energy-related developments are progressing or are in the planning stages within the region.
“This modernisation project will ensure that all our STEM learners have the latest, high quality, facilities to support their studies and equip them with the skills they need to develop successful careers in the region.
“We are extremely grateful to Magnox/NDA and the Welsh Government for their investment in the project, and to all our partners in the sector for supporting our vision.”
Simon Napper, NDA Stakeholder Relations and Socio Economics Manager said:
“The NDA is keen to encourage and develop education and skills, social infrastructure and sustainable employment.
“This project aims to make STEM subjects attractive to all and we would particularly welcome greater participation from female students. This project fits in well with the NDA’s ethos of investing in education and skills leading to sustainable employment.
“With Trawsfynydd being designated the lead site for the Magnox Rolling Decommissioning Programme, and as part of a range of initiatives in North Wales aiming for high value employment, this is a perfect opportunity to ensure future generations can continue to access secure jobs in the region.”