Two women sit working at laptops
Three people sit around a table talking while one works at a laptop

A STATE-OF-THE-ART business centre has been created at Barrow Sixth Form College to enable employers to work alongside the education community.

The SME Hub offers place for local and national employers and apprentices to work and hold meetings in a professional environment.

It is part of the development of the sixth form campus, funded in part by the larger Cumbria-wide Strategic Development Fund project, and is one of two projects making up the Barrow Learning Quarter backed by the £25million Town Deal.

The SME Hub is based in the Abbey Building of the Rating Lane specialist sixth form campus in leafy surroundings with good access to Barrow town centre and South Lakes.

Director of Curriculum, Technical and Higher Education Kate Colebourn said: “We are delighted to launch this new centre which puts employers at the centre of education and ensures the link to help bridge the higher-level skills gap across Cumbria.

“It is part of the Skillshub Cumbria collaboration between Furness, Lakes, Kendal and Carlisle colleges and the University of Cumbria.

“The conversations in those fantastic new meeting rooms will be wide ranging but with one purpose and that will be to ensure that as a college we understand the skills that businesses need and prepare our students so they are ready to hit the ground running with those skills.

“Likewise they will develop an understanding of our programmes and apprenticeships, the right people to contact and be able to identify potential candidates for their future workforce.”

Through Skillshub Cumbria, the education partners are working together with employers and learners to ensure that skills needs are met, and that Cumbria’s best talent achieve their goals and maximise their potential without leaving the county.

The new space at Barrow Sixth Form College has an industrial feel and includes three closed meeting rooms, one including video conferencing, an open plan meeting space and computer suite.

It was designed and project managed by leading Lancashire and Cumbria Chartered Architects, HPA. The practice continues to work with Barrow Sixth Form College to upgrade and improve the sixth form environment for both students and staff.

To find out more about the SME Hub and how Furness College is working with employers and learners through the Skillshub Cumbria project email

Posted 25th October 2022