City of Liverpool College unveils robot recruit

PEPPER is a robot who is working at the UK’s first dedicated Digital Academy in Liverpool.

The humanoid robot works at The City of Liverpool College’s new school dedicated to teaching vital computer-based skills.

The college is the first in the North West and the second in the UK to bring Pepper into the classroom to assist students in learning how to use cutting-edge technology.

Students will be able to programme Pepper to complete different tasks and learn important coding skills which are vital for working with computing and digital technology.

Japan’s SoftBank Robotics launched Pepper in 2014 and says it is ‘much more than a robot, he is a genuine humanoid companion created to communicate with you in the most natural and intuitive way, through his body movements and his voice’.

The company state Pepper is life-sized and equipped with HD cameras and microphones, is the first robot to be able to perceive human emotions and adapt to change to moods.

The new £2.5m Digital Academy at the college’s Myrtle Street campus is the only dedicated school in the country that will focus on teaching young people coding, software development and a range of other digital skills, including online marketing and games design.

The classrooms have been equipped with £1m of state-of-the art technology, SMART writing boards, gaming consoles, scanners, 3D printers and iPad and laptops.

The college anticipates student numbers in the School of Computer Science and Digital will grow from their current level of about 300 at any time to up to 500.

Students at the new academy will be able to pursue a range of qualifications, from level 1 right through to higher degree level. The academy will also be used by apprentices.

Elaine Bowker, Principal of The City of Liverpool College, said: “We are very pleased to open the first dedicated digital academy in the UK – and welcome a unique new member of staff.

“This investment means we will be better equipped than ever to deliver a pipeline of young people with the kind of skills which are essential for businesses in the 21st century.

“It is a signal of our focus on providing skills and qualifications which meet the needs of businesses and which directly contribute to the City region’s economic growth ambitions.

“We look forward to welcoming students who want to learn these vital skills that will help them progress onto exciting careers.”

Part of the overall funding for the project is due to be received from the Liverpool City Region Skills Capital Investment Fund, which is part of the Government’s Local Growth Fund.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “Pepper is a very welcome addition to the team at the City of Liverpool College.  The digital economy is a huge priority and opportunity for the Liverpool City Region. 

“Developing our creative talent through providers like the college and aligning skills to the needs of our businesses is one of my key priorities and I look forward to welcoming more students into this state-of-the-art facility.”

Asif Hamid MBE, Chair of the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is fantastic to see the Digital Academy open and benefitting our students.

“The digital sector is a significant priority for the City Region and this facility will enable us to grow our digital talent pool and help our young people develop the right skills and experience for the future.”

Councillor Ian Maher, portfolio lead for Employment and Skills for the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, said: “We know that digital skills will play a key role in our future economic growth, so to have such fantastic facilities, both in terms of the learning environment and teach.