New £7.4m institute to train ‘digitally aware’ engineers

Posted on 4 Jul 2019 by Maddy White

A £7.4m Institute of Productivity will be opened to help train the next generation of digitally aware engineers at the University of East Anglia.

AMI's competition is looking to promote apprenticeships through social media - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
The Institute of Productivity will train 1,500 people in the first five years – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Digital skills are as sought after as ever in British manufacturing, with £63bn a year lost because of the digital skills gap.

The Institute of Productivity will help narrow that gap by creating a dedicated School of Engineering by 2021, which will teach the next generation the skills they need to stay ahead and accelerate firms’ productivity.

The new hub, based at the University of East Anglia (UEA), will train 1,500 people in the first five years from the manufacturing and engineering industries, and it will create research partnerships between industry and local education providers in the region.

Powering up productivity

A £4.5m grant has been allocated by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership for Norfolk and Suffolk and this funding will be matched by UEA.

The New Anglia Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (NAAME) and TechEast industry sector groups will be key delivery partners of the Institute of Productivity. 

“This is great news for the industry as a whole and its wider business community. The region has many innovative manufacturing and engineering businesses, but the sector continues to face a skills shortage of unprecedented levels,” said Jamie Thums, chairman of NAAME and COO of Lintott Control Systems.

“With over 1 million trained people required by 2025 nationally, this investment will help with that. The Institute will also improve connections between businesses, academia and partners, which will help fuel productivity improvement.”

The Institute of Productivity will be based at UEA - image courtesy of UEA.
The Institute of Productivity will be based at UEA – image courtesy of UEA.

Fiona Lettice, Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at UEA added, “At the heart of the Institute of Productivity are the engineers of the future. 

“The Institute will support businesses in our region by enabling them to work alongside world-class researchers and students to discover practical solutions to current and future challenges. Students and businesses will be able to explore new ideas, prototype designs and create innovative products and services.”

Closing the digital divide

More than two-thirds (67%) of UK firms have unfilled digital vacancies and only a third of firms are confident that British business will be able to access the digital skills they need in the years ahead, a report from CBI and Tata Consulting Services found.

Businesses, local government and education providers are joining forces to close the digital skills gap in the industrial industry with numerous initiatives and campaigns. Alongside the Institute of Productivity, twelve Institutes of Technology are being rolled out across the UK to boost the skills of tomorrow.

The dozen centres will be collaborations between universities, FE colleges, and employers including Nissan, Siemens and Microsoft. They will specialise in delivering higher level technical training (Level 4 & 5) in STEM subjects, such as digital, advanced manufacturing and engineering. 

The Institutes of Technology are backed by £170m of government investment, meaning they will have access to advanced equipment and facilities and can tap into the latest research from their university partners.