A MULTI-MILLION pound higher education hub will open in Barnsley town centre next year to address a skills gap in the technology industry, the Chronicle can reveal.

Representatives from lead organisations such as Barnsley College, DN Colleges Group, Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield University AMRC have signed an agreement with the Department of Education to create the South Yorkshire Institute of Technology (SY IoT).

As part of the project, Barnsley College will invest £12m to redevelop its Church Street site, once home to the Barnsley Mining and Technical College.

The Chronicle understands the ‘extensive renovation project’ recently started and college leaders revealed the government’s stumped up half of the cost.

Yiannis Koursis, principal and chief executive of Barnsley College, said: “This is a historic moment for Barnsley and the wider region as we see higher-level technical education given the focus it deserves.

“Without action and investment from the government, further education providers, universities and employers, the region would have more limited access to the higher-level skills and knowledge the SY IoT will provide.

“Collectively, we want to drive ambition and attract skilled, better-paid jobs to the region, which will boost our economy and the prospects of those who live here.

“Raising aspirations and transforming lives is our purpose something which is already well-served through our existing technical vocational programmes.

“The SY IoT provides a further pathway for our students and the wider community to achieve great things.”

Prospective students can now apply and the building’s set to reopen in September next year.

Members of the SY IoT will work closely with local employers to co-create a curriculum that provides specialist training, meeting future demand.

The announcement, leaders say, continues the college’s vision of driving the development of technical and higher skills.

It was among the first in the country to offer specialist T Level courses equivalent to three A Levels which have already created greater opportunity for Barnsley College students to progress to university, higher levels of study or into paid, technical employment.

Simon Perryman, chair of governors at Barnsley College, added: “This is a proud moment for the college and for Barnsley.

“The signing of the agreement will mean that local communities can access new opportunities to forge a career in some of the region’s most exciting and dynamic sectors of the economy.

“Barnsley College has consistently led the way in providing the technical education and skills for a rapidly-changing world.

“From becoming a T Levels trailblazer to the delivery of the new higher technical qualifications, we continue to drive the development of the programmes that industry needs now and into the future, determined that the people of Barnsley have accessible pathways to these further and higher levels of study.”