An innovative new centre has been set up at Ayrshire College’s Kilwinning campus to help senior pupils take part in courses which could see them fast-tracked into work.

In 2014, North Ayrshire's Council's cabinet approved a proposal to develop facilities at Irvine Royal Academy and a co-located skill centre of excellence supported by Ayrshire College.

However, a recent review has resulted in a revised approach with a focus on the new future skills hub at the Kilwinning campus – a project involving business and industry where young people can learn skills in new technologies like renewable industries.

In 2012-13, Irvine Royal Academy had a school roll of 561 which was considerably short of capacity. The college has been working on employment outcomes and supporting local economic development, underpinned by partnerships with industry.

The Irvine Royal skills centre of excellence offered 15 to 18-year-olds (as well as young people aged 19 to 24 and adult returners) the chance to access high quality, vocational courses relevant to industry needs in an innovative learning environment, providing access to high quality skills training.

The lease would be for a decade from the date of entry.

In recognition of the understanding of emerging skills requirements, the council agreed to contribute £200,000 to the development of a future skills hub at Kilwinning college campus from the 2018-19 council capital programme.

The future skills hub is seen as an exciting campus development project for the college.

It replaces the existing workshop facilities at Nethermains and will enable the college to offer a dynamic and flexible curriculum aligned to the needs of local and national skills priorities.

An increase in the pupil roll at Irvine Royal Academy from 561 to 762 provides an opportunity to reconsider the use of the “college” wing, with the potential to create a health and wellbeing hub in the school campus.

As a result of these changes and opportunities, Ayrshire College and North Ayrshire Council have agreed a discontinuation of the skills centre of excellence model at Irvine Royal to allow development of the new future skills hub.

The council’s estates and education departments have worked with the college to agree a mutually acceptable early exit strategy from Irvine Royal Academy.

A review is underway in relation to the newly-vacated space at the academy, taking into consideration the increase in the school roll.

Council Leader Marie Burns told a cabinet meeting:   “A few of us have been to events at Irvine Royal and it is an absolutely fantastic school and the work that they do is an absolute credit to the staff and community.

“The Kilwinning future schools hub is an excellent facility.”

Depute leader Shaun Macaulay added: “The improvement journey that Irvine Royal has been fantastic over the last few years. I know the space within the school is being put to good use.

“I went down to the future skills hub’s official opening a few weeks ago and I was blown away by some of the work that is going on there.”