Petroc has secured £1 million of funding to build a specialist facility at its Barnstaple Campus for supported learning students.
The new building, due to be completed by the end of March 2013, will be used by Students with Learning Difficulties and Disabilities (SLDD) and will include a commercial kitchen, workshop, multi-media centre, independent living space, café and shop.
The students will use the new facilities to produce a wide variety of goods, including cakes, jams, pickles, ceramics, woodwork, art and jewellery, to sell in the shop, teaching them valuable employability and entrepreneurial skills.
In addition, students will acquire skills such as cleaning, cooking and laundry in the independent living space to prepare them for the future.
Kevin Hazell, Head of the School of Health, Fitness and Supported Learning, is overseeing the project. He said: "The new facility will enable us to build on the highly regarded supported learning provision we already have here at Petroc. Our aim is to give students the best possible start in life, to fulfil their full potential after they leave college."
"By running the social enterprise the students will learn how to turn an idea into reality and it will hopefully give them a significant head start when it comes to finding employment," added Kevin.
As well as benefitting Petroc students, the College hopes the new facility will attract interest from outside groups and organisations.
"We've already had enquiries from local disability groups, who have expressed interest in using the facility in the evenings, to host clubs and activities," explained Rosa Boston, Employer Liaison Officer for the School of Health, Fitness and Supported Learning.
"I can envisage the centre becoming a focal point of the local community and a major employment and social skills hub for Devon," added Rosa.
James Walding, a Community Link student, is excited about the new centre. He said: "My aim when I started college was to learn to live independently and gain skills for later in life - the new building will help me achieve this."
Rosa is keen to hear from anyone in the area who would like to get involved with the project.
"We're open to ideas from potential partners," explained Rosa. "The building is going to be so versatile, so there's a possibility local groups, employers or students might want to use it for activities that we haven't even thought of yet."
To find out more about the project call Rosa on 01271 338112.