North Norfolk District Council’s Growth Plan puts science and caring on the agenda to bridge “skills gap”

Tom Fitzpatrick. Picture: Ian Burt

Tom Fitzpatrick. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A science centre to bridge the district's skills gap and a bid to encourage investment in the care sector are among priorities in a new growth plan for north Norfolk.

North Norfolk District Council wants to help the investigation into whether a £2m science centre in the district is feasible.

It is aimed to inspire and motivate young people, promoting science, technology, engineering and maths, and bridge the 'skills gap' in some of the most significant employment sectors.

A council cabinet report outlining the growth plan said it had heard young people in Norfolk had relatively low aspirations, and added: 'It is likely to be a severe limiting factor on the growth potential of businesses, and therefore of the wider economy in the future.'

The council also wants to establish caring as a valuable local career path through the development of 'centres for excellence'.

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The new growth plan is part of the council's priorities, which states that it wants to achieve 'a district with a thriving economy offering better jobs and prospects for local people'.

Kevin Grieve, principal of North Walsham's Paston Sixth Form College told a recent business event in north Norfolk that securing funding to build the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) centre would be 'a big challenge'.

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But he added: 'It would inspire the pupils of the future to put on their lab coats and enjoy the science that they do. It's incredibly disappointing that only 19pc of pupils in Norfolk go into university. We have a duty to buck that trend.'

Other initiatives supported by the council include:

?Marketing north Norfolk to improve its image and promote investment opportunities.

?Using social media as a means of communication and promotions while maintaining traditional methods.

?Develop initiatives to support regeneration and revitalisation of important locations in the district such as town centres, coastal resorts and emerging employment areas such as the former RAF Coltishall and Egmere.

The council has proposed to undertake a Business Growth and Investment Opportunities study while is expected to cost £25,000.

The proposal will be decided at a district council cabinet meeting on March 9.

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