North West Economic News: Lancashire Colleges; Land Studio; Liverpool One; Mr. HA Moore and Smalley; Oldham Active


Lancashire businesses will be able to benefit from a range of virtual reality equipment designed to help local businesses prepare for working in a future low-carbon economy.

Two state-of-the-art low-carbon virtual reality (VR) hubs are on-site at Nelson and Colne College and Accrington and Rossendale College, while an additional mobile VR unit will be available for business trips , schools and local events.

The VR hubs were purchased as part of an £8.4million project, carried out by Lancashire Colleges, to develop the skills of the region’s current and future workforce and help businesses to lead the way in low-carbon technology. Funded by the Department for Education, the Strategic Development Fund (SDF) pilot project aims to increase collaboration between colleges and employers to prepare Lancashire’s workforce for the transition to a low carbon economy. carbon.

Each hub will help local makers benefit from an immersive environment that allows employees to understand the location and setting they are working with, helping makers develop a process without having to walk long distances or walk into high risk environments. The VR setup allows multiple groups of people to remotely understand a process at the same time to increase collaboration and can also be used for remote presentations, demonstrations, risk assessments and design reviews.

As well as being available to local businesses, students at Lancashire colleges will also be able to learn in real-life environments without having to leave the classroom, helping them prepare for the world of work once they are qualified. Local schools will also be able to benefit from the technology for program delivery, virtual field trips and special events.

Paul Barker, Sales and Recruitment Manager for Apprenticeships and Training at Nelson and Colne College Group, said: “We are committed to using the SDF Pilot to make a real difference, investing in alternative technologies and training to that businesses and communities can thrive. in low-carbon Lancashire. The VR suites allow local businesses to lead the way in finding solutions to manufacturing problems, while allowing students and workers in Lancashire to learn using the best technology on the market, creating new opportunities to help local employees to become the best they can be without having to leave the county.


Simon Richards and Lisa Sawyer

Land Studio, a specialist landscape architectural firm based in Chester and North Wales, has launched a pioneering civil engineering division. It is the first nature-focused landscape architecture firm in the UK to have its own in-house civil engineering team, which it believes can help tackle climate change.

The new division, which provides customers with drainage design and water management solutions, is led by Director Lisa Sawyer, who said, “What we’re doing at Land Studio is innovative and very exciting. I know of no other firm of our size in the UK that has in-house landscape architects and civil engineers working together as an integrated service. But I think that’s the future.

“Climate change has brought to the fore the need for landscape architects and civil engineers to work closely together and be involved in construction projects – regardless of size – from the start.

“This allows us to suggest that a building might be better oriented to make the most of a site’s topography or to show that there is a more efficient and sensitive way to treat surface water than placing attenuation boxes under the ground. It’s time to think differently.

Simon Richards, Founder of Land Studio, said: “We are delighted to welcome Lisa on board. Our combined knowledge and expertise of land and natural systems gives us unique insight into designing drainage and water management strategies that can respond to our changing climate. We believe this is the future and a step change in the fight against climate change through design excellence and a fully integrated approach to landscape architecture and engineering systems.


Liverpool One shopping center recently hosted its first student event of the year and the event set new records for in-store visitor numbers. Although the number of students in the city has not quite returned to 2019 levels, Liverpool One recorded footfall of 75,000 entering stores, 22% up on the same day in 2019 and 13% above. above typical Wednesday traffic volumes.

More than half of all Liverpool One retailers and F&B operators took part in the event, which was supported by live bands in Peter’s Lane, a DJ truck on Paradise Street and the Invisible Wind Factory performing on skates on wheels on South John Street.

Donna Howitt, Venue Strategy Director at Liverpool One, said: “Liverpool One has always been hugely popular with students, but it was great to see so many people taking advantage of our dedicated event.

“Our retailers, restaurants and bars have also been supportive, providing not only great deals, but additional entertainment and experience to complement everything we offer across the board.”

The student event followed the announcement that Grosvenor and Gravity Active Entertainment will invest £10 million in creating a 100,000 square foot active experience at Liverpool One in the former Debenhams on South John Street. The venue will open later this year and will be Gravity’s UK flagship.


Karen Morris, Graham Gordon and Ram Gupta

Accounting and business consultancy firm MHA Moore and Smalley has donated 30 laptops to struggling people in Lancashire.

The company will donate the devices through Blackburn-based IT support and services company, Nybble, who will refurbish them from scratch and distribute them to those suffering from device poverty in the county. The two companies have joined together as part of their commitment to Lancashire Investors in Community, an initiative launched last year which aims to make an impactful and lasting difference for the most needy people in the county.

Graham Gordon, Managing Partner, MHA Moore and Smalley, said, “MHA Moore and Smalley have always sought to give back to our communities. With people living an ever-increasing proportion of their lives online, device poverty is a growing problem and this has been highlighted over the past two years by the lockdown. Whether it’s improving access to education, job opportunities or helping people access better support online, we hope this donation can help improve the lives of those in need in Lancashire. .

In September last year, MHA Moore and Smalley became founding members of Lancashire Investors in Community. The company will work alongside organizations including Booths, United Utilities, Panaz and Harrison Drury to support the Community Foundation for Lancashire, an organization that promotes charitable giving to support disadvantaged people in the county. Nybble is also a founding member and has partnered with MHA Moore and Smalley on the initiative.

Ram Gupta, Managing Director of Nybble, said: “The pandemic has highlighted the importance of access to digital and online systems. We are grateful to MHA Moore and Smalley for this donation, which will help children, seniors and charities better connect with the world.


Kickstart Recreation Team Member Brogan Garforth and Jack Kelly

Oldham Active (Oldham Community Leisure) works with young local unemployed people, offering them six months paid work experience with the aim of helping them find permanent employment.

The leisure trust currently has 11 Kickstarter placements under the government’s Kickstart scheme, which aims to help the local community create jobs for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit. Kickstarter placements have proven to be a valuable asset to Oldham Active, with some undertaking further training, for example as lifeguards, and others having had their employment extended on a longer term.

Simon Blair, Business Development Manager at Oldham Active, said: “It’s essential that unemployed young people have the opportunity to show their worth, and the Kickstart program gives them the experience they may be missing when are looking for a job. We hope that our placements can introduce young people in our community to a career in recreation, hopefully in the long term.

Since July 2021, the Oldham Active Kickstart program has had young people working in a variety of roles and departments including Human Resources Administrator, Recreation Team Staff, Swim Program Administration, facilities and public relations. Jack Kelly, 18, from Royton, began his Kickstart placement in March 2022, working in the public relations and social media department. He said: “After finishing my A levels, I really struggled to find work. I met the Oldham Active HR Manager, who offered me the paid Kickstart placement. I was delighted and my parents breathed a big sigh of relief. It’s fantastic to have a goal and to have a routine.

Simon Blair said: “Jack’s story has been positive, but sadly there are many more young people struggling to find jobs, with so much untapped potential. Jack is a valuable asset to Oldham Active and has proven his abilities, becoming a strong member of the team.


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