A Minister has heard how the University of Stirling will drive inclusive growth through the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, during a visit to campus today [Wednesday 3 April].
Jamie Hepburn MSP, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills, was told how the International Environment Centre – to be created under the deal – would help develop a workforce equipped to deal with current and emerging environmental challenges, providing opportunities for local, national and international employment.
At the heart of the initiative is an integrated approach – positioning cutting-edge research alongside associated industries, national agencies, and state-of-the-art training. Tying skills development to the latest scientific research and environmental policymaking, the Centre will provide a source of sustainable economic growth in the region, and provide career opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable.
The Minister was welcomed to the University by Professor Malcolm MacLeod, Senior Deputy Principal, before hearing from Fiona Colligan, the University’s City Region Deal Programme Manager, and Debbie Carter, City Region Deal Programme Manager for Clackmannanshire Council. Mr Hepburn heard how the International Environment Centre – along with the University’s new Aquaculture innovation hub – will form the basis of a wider effort to drive economic inclusion across the region.
Stirling and Clackmannanshire face a number of challenges, including low investment in research and development, and lower projected job growth compared to other parts of Scotland. Bold and innovative business models for City Region Deal projects will enable investment in skills, helping local communities to benefit from the opportunities created on their doorstep.
Professor Malcolm MacLeod, the University’s Senior Deputy Principal, said: “The University of Stirling is a world-leading centre for environment-related research. Our researchers are pioneering new approaches to environmental stewardship, supporting economic growth that is made to withstand the challenges and demands of a rapidly changing world.
“With four times as many environment sector jobs in the Stirling and Clackmannanshire region than the national average, it’s clear that, through combining cutting-edge research with skills development, we can create a sustainable and distinctive source of employment for Scotland.”
Working closely with Clackmannanshire Council and other regional partners, the University will support the establishment of a skills training base, complementing the latest advances in research, technology and policy. Expanding the pool of those working in the area of environmental management and monitoring, together with upskilling those already employed in the sector, the Centre will provide a distinctive economic base that can support the Scottish Government’s aspiration for an environmentally sustainable and inclusive economy.
Skills Minister Jamie Hepburn said: “The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that Scotland has a skilled workforce, both now and in the future. I was delighted to visit the University of Stirling today to learn about how this is being supported through the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal.
“In particular, the university-led International Environmental Centre and Aquaculture Innovation Hub projects will put Stirling at the forefront of environmental research. It will also support skills and training opportunities that will benefit communities and employers across the region and will help drive inclusive economic growth.”
In addition to the £22 million to be invested in the University-led International Environment Centre, the University will receive £17 million for a new aquaculture facility, placing research and innovation at the heart of its effort to ensure the world has a secure, sustainable supply of food.
The £90.2 million Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, funded by the UK and Scottish Governments, is supported by £123.8 million from regional partners, and has the potential to leverage an additional £640 million in further private investment. Over a period of 10 to 15 years, the investment has the potential to deliver more than 5,000 new jobs across the region.