THE education secretary, Gillian Keegan, visited Truro College last week to see first-hand how it has used £14-million of government money to fund courses and facilities for Cornwall’s young people.

Ms Keegan was shown the new Valency building, which houses the college’s University Centre and 19+ Career and Development offer, and met young people studying T Levels — the career-focussed qualification for 16 to 19 year olds combining classroom learning with work experience.

The college is receiving T Level investment of £773,700 and currently has more than 100 T Level students across its campuses. A further £2.5-million is being ploughed into building skills in modern methods of construction and retrofit, and creating Green Skills learning hubs focussing on marine science, engineering and mechatronics.

The education secretary also attended a roundtable event at Penwith College last Thursday, speaking to local students, education providers and employers to understand the skillset needed in Cornwall.

On Friday, she opened the new science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and health skills centre at the Callywith campus in Bodmin, which has partnered with mineral company Imerys to recruit 12 apprentices for a Level 3 Engineering Technician apprenticeship. 

Ms Keegan paid tribute to Cornwall’s “real-growth industries like lithium, shipbuilding and off-shore wind”. She added: “Businesses have been saying the demand for apprenticeships has boomed. Young people are asking about higher-level apprenticeships right up to degree level – that’s the big message.

“One of the things we’re working on next is how to make more apprenticeships available with small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and to make sure it works here in Cornwall, especially the remotest parts. That’s the biggest test of my policies – to see if they satisfy Cornwall.”

Truro and Penwith College principal Martin Tucker was “delighted” to welcome Ms Keegan.

“The visit provided a forum for education and business leaders to sit with the Secretary of State and have an open conversation about the future of education and training in Cornwall, which was welcomed by all who attended,” he said.

The minister also visited Naturally Learning nursery in Blackwater to publicise the government’s decision to give 15 hours a week of government-funded childcare to working parents of two-year-olds.