College students providing digital support to businesses


Spacebar is a digital hub where students learn new skills and support businesses to boost their online presence. - Credit: Vicky Angear

Weston College students are offering digital support to businesses from a new unit in the Sovereign Shopping Centre. 

Spacebar was set up as a result of Covid-19, when businesses had to adapt to set up online services to enable them to survive during the lockdowns. The students had been providing virtual support, but are now operating from the shopping centre. 

The digital hub is a joint venture between Weston College, the Sovereign Shopping Centre, Business Improvement District (BID), NatWest, North Somerset Council and the Weston Place Agency.   

Under the guidance of BID, learners have been working on projects for local businesses by supporting them to improve their digital presence and building websites. 

Spacebar provides digital T Level and BTEC learners with practical industry experience, while also allowing them to develop their technical skills and support local employers. 

Dr Paul Phillips, principal and chief executive of Weston College, said: “Spacebar is a really exciting project for our learners. 

“Over the past few years, our computing learners have earned themselves a first-class reputation, after supporting businesses across the region to develop their presence online, and also solve problems that full-time employees have struggled with. 

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“We are so proud that this project has incorporated such a variety of students, from different courses, all with the overall goal, of helping local people develop their business in such difficult circumstances.” 

Students at Spacebar will also receive talks and advice sessions from NatWest’s digital team, and technical support and guidance from mentors. 

Steve Townsend, BID manager, said: “It is important that as a business we support local talent, and allow them the space to harness their skills. 

 “Spacebar is a fantastic opportunity not only for learners, but also for our community, and we are delighted to be part of driving the digital agenda for the region.” 

Jon Walton, manager of the Sovereign Shopping Centre has also praised the project. He added: “The team at the Sovereign are delighted to host Spacebar and it is another example of how the centre is repurposing itself to deal with the current challenges and opportunities facing Weston.” 

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