A transatlantic collaboration supports post-industrial communities.
A Fellow-led project, bringing together Fellows in Scotland and the US alongside other partners, is seeking to bring new ideas for the future of work to Inverclyde, a proud post-industrial area outside Glasgow. Once famed for shipbuilding and later for computer manufacturing, the area has struggled in recent years as the economy has changed. The Inverclyde Makerspace project will create an accessible venue containing cutting-edge manufacturing and design equipment and technology. Located in a town in Inverclyde, this space will allow for skills to be developed among the local population which can help them access good jobs in developing sectors of the economy, and bring their own skills, knowledge and creativity to the community.
The Inverclyde Makerspace project was initiated by US Fellow Joseph Katter, Executive Director of NextFab Foundation, working with RSA Scotland and RSA US. Bringing NextFab Foundation's wealth of experience, the team identified the potential for learning and collaboration with a similar project currently being developed by NextFab in Western Pennsylvania. The project features advanced training in STEM and digital manufacturing for young people aged 12–18, combined with an apprenticeship programme aligned with the needs of local advanced manufacturing industries, with the aim of developing a career pipeline from the community to rapidly expanding sectors of the economy. As well as bringing together communities that have both experienced industrial decline and associated challenges, the Inverclyde project builds upon the existing partnership between the closest major cities of Pittsburgh and Glasgow, in which the RSA has been heavily involved.
The project benefited from the input of Scottish Fellow Mick O'Connor, who – among other roles – is leading the development of the new Prestwick Spaceport in Scotland. The space sector is rapidly growing in Scotland, and Inverclyde is perfectly positioned between industry hubs in Prestwick and Glasgow, but with few easy routes for residents to access jobs. By harnessing the links with Prestwick and other partners, the new makerspace aims to shift this dynamic by opening up new opportunities for employment in both technical and public-facing positions.
The team next plans to carry out a feasibility study in Inverclyde to ensure the project is rooted in the priorities and needs of the community and identify the optimal location for the makerspace. The project harnesses the creativity of Fellows in different countries for impact, underscoring the mission of One RSA and opening doors to new collaborations. Evan Malone, Founder of NextFab Foundation said: "NextFab Foundation is proud to work with the thought leaders of RSA and our partners in Scotland on this exciting project, which will apply the spirit of innovation which produced the first industrial revolution, to current day challenges faced by legacy manufacturing communities in the UK and the US. Supporting local communities in the transition to the future of work is of highest priority to our Foundation and the civic duty of us all."
Updates on progress will be shared later in the year; meanwhile, to find out more, please contact [email protected]org.uk.
Jamie Cooke is Head of RSA Scotland.
- Follow Jamie Cooke on Twitter @JamieACooke.
This article first appeared in the RSA Journal Issue 1 2022.
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