Delivering a skilled workforce

First Minister opens £53 million Ayrshire College.

The new £53 million revamp of the Kilmarnock campus of Ayrshire College was opened today by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Scottish Government contributed £48.5 million towards the redevelopment through the NPD (Non-profit Distributing) programme, making it the single largest public sector investment the town has ever seen. The £3.5 billion NPD programme is being used to fund projects in three main sectors – further education, health and transport.

The Kilmarnock campus site was donated to the college by Diageo following the closure of their bottling plant.

The campus – accommodating 5,500 students, 338 staff and more than 100 courses – encompasses all curriculum areas, with a strong emphasis on science, technology, engineering and apprenticeship programmes. It also houses a health and wellbeing centre, hair and beauty training salon, training restaurant and café and lecture theatre.

The First Minister toured the campus, meeting students in engineering and IT and science laboratories before unveiling the Ayrshire College plaque at the official opening ceremony.

The First Minister said:

“Students are clearly thriving in this brand new campus, and they will soon form part of a highly skilled workforce that is tailored for the regional economy.

“I met with students and Modern Apprentices who have been in the campus since October, and their enthusiasm for their chosen field is palpable. This demonstrates how a modern, fit-for-purpose campus and its facilities can truly inspire learning.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Diageo for gifting the site to the College. Their generosity will make an on-going difference to young people’s lives in the Ayrshire region.  

“Colleges are vital to our economic growth and success. Over the last Parliament, we maintained 116,000 college places annually, and we are determined to continue this commitment to purposeful, job-focused learning.

“Our nationwide investment in colleges in support of the major reform programme, coupled with our Modern Apprenticeship Programme, is helping to reduce unemployment among young people, and at this critical point in their lives, giving them meaningful aspirations for their futures.”

Ayrshire College recently added additional courses in engineering, computing and science in response to the needs of the regional economy.

A HNC Mechanical Engineering was introduced, and the Engineering Academy was introduced in conjunction with Strathclyde University. The college is the main provider of engineering and construction apprenticeships in Ayrshire.

Willie Mackie, Chair of Ayrshire College, said:

“This new campus in Kilmarnock is a major boost for regeneration and vibrancy in East Ayrshire. Over 5,000 students will attend the new campus each year, where they will learn industry recognised skills in industry relevant facilities, using industry leading equipment.

“I would like to applaud the outstanding leadership from Heather Dunk and her team which has resulted in a building which, as well as transforming the physical landscape of Kilmarnock, will help transform Ayrshire’s economy.” 

Heather Dunk OBE, Principal of Ayrshire College, said:

“At Ayrshire College our vision is to raise aspirations, inspire achievement and increase opportunities. We are supporting the delivery of that vision with innovative and exciting learning spaces like our new campus in Kilmarnock, and I am very proud of everyone who helped make our dream for this world-class building a reality.

“The College is making a real difference to people’s lives in Ayrshire, and I have no doubt that students, local communities and employers will reap the benefits of our unrivalled facilities for many years to come.”


Modern Apprenticeship Programme

The Scottish Government’s target is to reduce youth unemployment by 40% by 2021, and has committed to delivering 30,000 new Modern Apprenticeships a year by 2020.

There were 25,818 Modern Apprentice starts in 2015-16 – surpassing the target of 25,500 for that year. The Scottish Government is on track to achieve its target of 26,000 starts in the second year of the expansion of the MA programme.

Youth Employment Initiative

This year, the Scottish Government announced a £59 million Youth Employment Initiative to support young people in South West Scotland into secure and sustainable employment.

The Youth Employment Initiative works to get young people into the labour market – particularly those who are not in employment, education or training, including those at risk of social exclusion or those from marginalised communities.

Positive school leaver destinations – both initial and sustained – are at an all-time high. In 2014/15, the proportion of school leavers in sustained positive destinations reached a record high of 92% compared to the 2009/10 figure of 85.2%. The Annual Participation Measure published by Skills Development Scotland, which will replace the School Leaver Statistics in 2017 as the Government’s measure of the impact of Opportunities for All, shows that 90% of Scotland’s young people aged 16–19 are in education, training or employment.


Media enquiries

Back to top