THE Isle of Man Government is entering into a 6 month period of detailed discussions with the Manx Educational Foundation (MEF) with the intent of selling them the Nunnery site for development as the International Centre for Technology.
If certain conditions are met, the MEF will purchase the site for £5M. There will be no discussions with any other prospective purchasers during this 6 month period.
The decision by the Council of Ministers to allow the MEF to pursue the purchase does not immediately trigger the sale of the Nunnery site and the MEF has a period of 6 months in which to prove it has met Council’s requirements.
If successful in purchasing the site, the MEF will then spend millions of pounds developing the International Centre for Technology as a dedicated facility for practical ICT (Information and Communications Technology) training and world-class tertiary education for ICT and business. It would also provide wider benefits, including helping to raise the profile of the Isle of Man’s e-Business sector, which is forecast to be the largest source of growth over the period to 2020 and which will require many more skilled ICT workers such as those the MEF hopes to produce.
Minister for Economic Development John Shimmin MHK said:
‘The Council of Ministers has approved this arrangement in recognition of the significant economic benefits that this Centre potentially offers the Isle of Man.
‘There are many compelling reasons why this decision should be welcomed.
‘This has the potential to be a very exciting and important development for the Isle of Man. Government’s Vision 2020 initiative, which is the most significant project for many years to look at the future of the Island’s economy, has identified huge growth potential in the e-Business sector and ICT more widely.
‘There is a growing global shortage of skilled ICT workers able to apply the latest technologies to create business growth. The Isle of Man is also affected by this shortage, as shown by a recent survey conducted by my Department and the Manx ICT Association (MICTA), which indicated that the excellent growth potential for local businesses is being hampered by a shortage of ICT skills.
‘The MEF has identified this need and believes it has the right propositions to help to address it. It intends to undertake a wide range of activity at the Centre. The MEF is working with the British Computer Society to provide innovative undergraduate degrees in ICT. It has also secured a Memorandum of Understanding with Hewlett Packard UK (HP), one of the world’s leading ICT firms. HP needs to recruit both many skilled graduates for its own staff as well as to assist its 7000 resellers to maintain their staff’s technical skills in using HP’s hardware and software. The MEF hopes to support these needs from its planned home at the Nunnery.
‘As a result, the MEF’s International Centre for Technology has the potential to benefit the Isle of Man in economic terms, both directly (from investment and attraction of students from the UK and overseas) and indirectly through developing vital ICT skills in the Isle of Man.
‘Broader benefits include large numbers of off-Island students and ICT workers coming to the Island as business visitors and a boost for the local construction sector as there will be many millions of pounds spent on developing the site.
‘Both Government and many in the private sector want to help the MEF to create a world-class facility that will support the Isle of Man’s vision to become a global international business centre.’
Minister for Education and Children Tim Crookall MHK said:
‘This announcement provides the MEF the option to develop much-needed ICT training that will complement and enhance that already offered by my Department. It will also allow my Department by the Summer of 2014 to accelerate the consolidation of Business, Accountancy and Professional Educational provision for those over the age of 18 within existing premises at Glencrutchery Road and Homefield Road, which has been a stated aim of the Department since the International Business School was merged with Isle of Man College of Further and Higher Education.’
Kurt Roosen, Executive Director, MEF said:
‘The MEF are enormously grateful for the support that it is getting from both the Government and the business community. This current agreement is a huge step forward. However, we are under no illusions as to how much work we still have to do to get the vision realised and create the visionary national asset that the Isle of Man deserves.’
Jane Dellar, Chief Executive of the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce said:
‘The Council of the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce has been concerned for a long time about the developing skills gap in ICT, which is one of the highest potential economic growth sectors of the Island. We are therefore delighted this positive step is being taken. The additional benefit of bringing international visitors to the Island will also support our tourism, leisure and retail industries. Becoming an international centre of excellence in ICT education brings further benefits in the global perception of the Isle of Man. Chamber is delighted that Government and the MEF are working together to make this happen.’