Published: 11:07, 29 September 2020
| Updated: 10:35, 05 October 2020
To help meet the emerging demand for specialist green skills, EKC Group’s Canterbury College has invested more than £64,000 in upgrading its new Spring Lane site , with further investment planned to offer cutting-edge education and training in animal, conservation, horticulture and land-based subjects.
Home to more than 500 animals and over 2,000 invertebrates, with extensive grounds for conservation and land management education, the Spring Lane site offers East Kent residents the unique opportunity to learn from experienced industry professionals, take part in revolutionary conservation research, and develop the skills needed for our future economy.
Investment in facilities over the summer included health and safety upgrades, the installation of a new boiler in the glass house and installation of Wi-Fi in the animal unit and in the glass house to increase students’ ability to use technology in the practical areas of the site.
The College has also subscribed to the industry-standard Zoo Industry Management System (ZIMS) to ensure that students have access to the most up-to-date resources, which will enhance their employment opportunities in the future.
This transformation comes following the ‘Going Green’ report by pioneering innovation charity Nesta, who have predicted that around half of all UK employees are likely to experience job transformation in the coming years, as we transition to a green economy.
With over 350 students currently enrolled on land-based courses across Canterbury College’s two campuses, the first-rate facilities at Spring Lane and New Dover Road are being used to teach students animal husbandry skills, develop their knowledge of conservation and enhance their employability skills.
Providing industry experience is a key part of the College’s study programmes. Students are currently involved in conservation projects, working with industry expert Chester Zoo, to update the invertebrate centre, which is home to over 250 different species of invertebrates, including Montserrat tarantulas and Giant Asian mantises.
The College will be the second collection in the world to house these species and will be assisting Chester Zoo to develop a greater understanding of their life cycle and breeding behaviours.
Liz Webb, Conservation Training Academy Manager at Chester Zoo, said, “Chester Zoo’s mission is ‘Preventing Extinction’, and to do that we work with a range of educational institutions to promote the importance and understanding of conservation.
“We see students as our future conservationists and are pleased to support the training and development of the next generation helping us prevent extinction!
“For the students enrolling this year, industry placements will be a key focus, and the opportunities made available to students are endless.”
Wingham Wildlife Park works exclusively with the Spring Lane campus when providing industry placements.
“It’s because we know that the students have a real passion for land-based learning,” added curator Marcus Wilder.
“Working with animals is something you do because you love animals and you love the outdoors. Seeing students grow their passion for wildlife while spending time with us is part of the reason why we enjoy having them come out to us.
“You can spend years at a desk studying biology and the behaviour of animals, but without getting your hands dirty and getting that experience, you’ll never be truly prepared.
“Spring Lane students are able to get that all-important experience with us, and we are able to help bring on the next generation of conservationists and zookeepers – we’ve even gained some valuable members of staff as a direct result of these placements!”
To learn more about the courses available and how you can support the development of skills for the green economy, click here .