Case study

Placemakers: Addressing the demand for higher-level skills with place-based communities in South Cumbria

11 May 2022

Cumbria as a region has a slow growing and ageing population. There is a significant gap in qualifications at level 4 or above of 38.1% vs 42.8% nationally. Young people are leaving the county, however the demand for higher level skills significantly outstrips supply and is projected to increase. Research, development, and innovation are below national averages, particularly given the large industries. The county is polycentric, with extreme differences, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

In South Cumbria, in a partnership between the University of Cumbria, Furness College, the Borough Council, BAE Systems (BAE) and local businesses, the Barrow Learning Quarter is being developed. It is a transformational project for Barrow, the region, and the university, helping to boost economic prosperity, improve skills and productivity. A new Learning Quarter in Barrow will see the creation of a new university campus at its heart and help transform the town for future generations.

Barrow is an HE ‘cold spot’, with low levels of HE participation that are considerably below the national average. The project will build on the University of Cumbria’s existing collaboration with partners. BAE, which is focused on meeting long term high-level skills in advanced manufacturing, digital and leadership, working with Lancaster University’s ‘Security Lancaster’ and its Data Science Institute, and Furness College with a focus on developing routes into and through higher education across a range of discipline areas.