Belfast Telegraph

Former Odyssey nightclub to address STEM grads shortage

The former Beach nightclub could be turned into a digital learning centre
The former Beach nightclub could be turned into a digital learning centre
Lisa Smyth

By Lisa Smyth

Plans to convert the former home of the iconic Beach nightclub into a digital learning centre have been submitted to Belfast City Council.

The application, submitted by planning agency Turley on behalf of The Odyssey Property Company, is the third project put forward since a £17m redevelopment of the centre was announced earlier this month.

The developers last night declined to provide any further details on the proposed digital learning centre, although it is anticipated that it will help address a shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) graduates.

The planning application, submitted to Belfast City Council on September 25, proposes a change of use of the ground floor unit from nightclub to digital learning centre, including ancillary office space and storage.

A letter sent by Turley to the planning department said the digital learning centre "represents a significant investment by the Odyssey Property Company to support the government's Industrial Strategy to encourage more young people to consider STEM careers".

It added: "By way of background, Ulster University Economic Policy Centre (UUEPC) were commissioned by Belfast City Council to report on the future skill needs of the Belfast City Council area.

"The study - published in January 2019 - found that a relatively high proportion of graduates in Higher Education (HE) are in narrow and unspecialised subjects, and STEM shortages are evident.

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"The Belfast Agenda sets out ambitious economic growth targets and acknowledges that Belfast's Knowledge economy is growing fast.

"Its creative industries sector is expanding, with 1,646 businesses supporting total employment of 11,545 jobs.

"For example, Belfast is rapidly becoming a world leader in cyber security through organisations such as the Centre for Secure Information Technology, based at Queen's University Belfast (QUB).

"Under this high growth scenario, future job growth over the coming decade in BCC will be driven by high skill sectors such as ICT and professional services.

"This translates to high growth in science and technology occupations, which highlights the importance of education performance in STEM subject areas.

"The provision of facilities like the subject application will clearly play a key role in addressing the shortages of graduates in STEM."

As part of the revamp, the UK's largest cinema chain Cineworld and bowling operator Hollywood Bowl will move in to replace the current operators. They are the first anchor tenants to confirm their position in what used to be called the Odyssey Pavilion.

Belfast Telegraph