Professor Liz Barnes (left) and Jo Gideon MP (centre).

Work has started at Staffordshire University's new apprenticeship and digital skills hub, Catalyst. Stoke Central MP, Jo Gideon: "This is a way of engaging with employers in a really meaningful way and creating fantastic opportunities for young people"...

Stoke Central MP, Jo Gideon recently visited Staffordshire University's main Stoke-on-Trent campus to see the progress that is being made on the university's new Catalyst building.

Catalyst will act as a apprenticeship and digital skills hub for Staffordshire University, connecting employers, students and apprentices from across the Midlands and beyond. Jo believes that this development will add to the university's current work in growing the number of skilled apprentices in North Staffordshire.

Stoke Central MP, Jo Gideon said:

“I think the Staffordshire University is already doing a fantastic job with apprenticeships and the Catalyst will be a massive focus for employers. I think that it takes things up to the next level which is hugely important because the educational attainment levels need to be raised in the district and this is a way of engaging with employers in a really meaningful way and creating fantastic opportunities for young people.

“Education, skills and the economy are among my top priorities as MP. The right skills to equip people for the jobs of the future are vitally important and I welcome the role Staffordshire University’s Catalyst will play in developing these.”

Piling is currently underway at the Stoke-on-Trent site, with main contractor VINCI Construction UK installing 304 concrete piles into the groundwork to form the foundations for the three-storey building (floor area of 8,860m²).

An artist's impression of Staffordshire University's Catalyst building.

Catalyst is due to open in September 2021, and will feature a striking yet functional design. Supported by an angular brick frame, the flexible, open-plan space comprises a glass frontage at ground level and a distinctive design on the upper storeys. The apprenticeships and digital skills hub will feature a new library, social learning spaces, a restaurant and café.

Vice-Chancellor of Staffordshire University, Professor Liz Barnes CBE commented:

“The Catalyst is going to be a new blueprint for buildings in the University. The learning environment is something we've not seen here before in terms of very flexible spaces, really modern contemporary spaces and amazing use of digital technologies.

“In terms of the student experience, they'll be seeing employers in there as this will be the first point of call for employers coming in to work with us. Their new library will be in there, which is looking nothing like the one that we've got now, and it promises to be a great place to be at the centre of our University.”

Professor Barnes said the new building would also benefit the local community and become a window for the work of the University.

“First of all, it is going to look amazing, it will be a real eye-catching building in the middle of Stoke-on-Trent. We already have our community come in for events like Profs in the Pav and Catalyst will be a place where they can also come and learn more about the University or just come in and have a coffee or something to eat and see what our students do day-to-day. There will be a lot of glass in there, so they'll be able to see lectures going on and just get a feel for the buzz in the University.”