A TECHNOLOGY institute at Swindon College could temp more firms to relocate here to meet the high demand for digital skills.

It was announced this week that Swindon will get a £21 million government-backed Institute of Technology that will transform the North Star campus at the college.

It is one of 12 across the UK and will train more than 1,000 students and apprentices for high-tech jobs in conjunction with businesses and local universities.

Paul O'Collins, head of innovation at Business West, told the Adver the institute will plug the skills shortage gap and attract more businesses to Swindon.

He said: "It can only be beneficial for the good of the people of Swindon but also to attract innovation from businesses that wouldn't have typically chosen Swindon.

"I think there's a significant skills shortage in the South West, and arguably across the developed world.

"This can only address that shortage, particularly around STEM and digital skills.

"If businesses are setting up they want to go where they know there is access to skills and resources.

"Often businesses will relocate to find that pot of skills resources."

The news that the IOT will be in Swindon was widely welcomed across the board, especially given the blow that Honda intends to close the South Marston plant by 2021 with the direct loss of 3,500 jobs.

If the plant closes it would coincide with the start of the IOT, potentially opening in 2021, offering apprenticeships and training in highly sought after skills such as software engineering.

Paul added: "The technical challenges facing businesses is this migration away from traditional skills to a new world which is very technology-based.

"What we are seeing is that some of the traditional skills that people have developed are being phased out and there is a huge demand for new skills, particularly around programming, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

"People who are entering the work force, or just as importantly, those in need of re-training, they are going to have to embrace these new skills to understand what the demand is of the future."