Secretary of State Michael Gove commends Cheltenham for leading the way in levelling up

Gloucestershire College Michael Gove

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, praised the partnership between government, education and business, highlighting that what is being done in Cheltenham can be done across the United Kingdom.

His remarks came as he visited Gloucestershire College’s (GC) Cheltenham Campus this week, to see how the College and its partners are shaping the future of cyber through a unique ecosystem.

The Secretary of State met with GC’s cyber degree apprentices, T Level students and industry-trained staff in the recently launched Advanced Digital Academy (ADA) on national Ada Lovelace Day; the namesake of the £3m cyber training centre.

Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, said: “It’s exciting to see levelling up in action at the Advanced Digital Academy and Hub8 office space.

“These Government backed initiatives are working together to close the skills gap and drive innovation in the cyber-security sector, which is vital for prosperity and economic growth in Cheltenham and the wider region.

“Talented young people in the area from all backgrounds are gaining the digital skills they need, while businesses here provide them with excellent job opportunities to help unlock their full potential.”

The Minister was welcomed by GC Principal and Chief Executive, Matthew Burgess, Vice Principal and Chief Financial Officer, Andy Bates, Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk, and Managing Director of Place and Growth, Tim Atkins, before enjoying a short tour of ADA, including its impressive cyber attack and defence room.

Cyber Degree Apprentice, Taylor Watson, and Lead Cyber Trainer and Assessor, Martin Webley, shared the benefits of GC’s cyber training programmes with the Secretary of State, highlighting its industry-relevant curriculum and facilities, alongside its connections which help fill skills gaps and support Cheltenham in becoming the cyber capital of the UK.

Taylor said: “I’ve always had a passion for IT and this cyber degree apprenticeship allows me to pursue my passion in a way that works for me. GC gives me one-on-one access to trainers with over 30 years’ experience in cyber, and opportunities I wouldn’t get elsewhere. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Supported by its partnership in the West of England Institute of Technology (WEIoT), GC delivers a range of courses and apprenticeships that bring education and industry together; supporting employers to develop higher level skills and training employees for the jobs of tomorrow. The ethos of WEIoT is to open up university-level education to all sectors of the community.

Principal Matthew Burgess explains: “We have a diverse community and offer here at Gloucestershire College; providing education and training for all those motivated to succeed. Our learners can focus on one subject or industry, working from entry level to T Levels – equivalent to A Levels – or apprenticeships right up to degree level – all with an industry focus running through. We are proud to be the only college in the country with an NCSC-recognised cyber degree apprenticeship programme, and to be working closely with these inspiring businesses.”

The Secretary of State then visited the recently-opened Hub8 GC to meet with businesses key to the cyber Cheltenham ecosystem, including Hub8, the Golden Valley DevelopmentCynamCheltenham Borough Council and Western Gateway.