Twelve Institutes of Technology to boost UK’s vocational skills deficit

A dozen Institutes of Technology will be set up across the UK to boost the skills of tomorrow, education secretary Damian Hinds has announced today (10 April).

The institutes could be the biggest shake up for technical education – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

The Institutes of Technology will be collaborations between universities, FE colleges, and employers including Nissan, Siemens and Microsoft.

They will reportedly specialise in delivering higher level technical training (Level 4 & 5) in STEM subjects, such as digital, advanced manufacturing and engineering that will provide employers with the skilled workforce they need now, and in years to come.

This a long-standing and growing concern in the sector; the British Chambers of Commerce previously reported that four-fifths (81%) of manufacturers say that there is a critical shortage of skilled staff.

This came just before The Manufacturer reported that businesses are, if they are large enough, building their own training centres to recruit and retain future talent because of a serious lack of confidence in the education system.

Matthew Fell, CBI chief UK policy director, commented: “Institutes of Technology help bridge the gap between A-Levels or T-Levels, and a bachelors or degree apprenticeship – providing higher-level skills, especially in STEM, that businesses tell us time and again they need to succeed.”

The academic leads for the 12 Institutes of Technology are:

  • Barking & Dagenham College
  • Dudley College of Technology
  • HCUC
  • Milton Keynes College
  • New College Durham
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Solihull College & University Centre
  • Swindon College
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Lincoln
  • Weston College of Further and Higher Education
  • York College

Once funding is agreed, the Institutes can start to develop the buildings and facilities needed; with  the first expected to open from September 2019.

A key step to shaking up technical education?

The institutes could form a key part of the government’s biggest shake up to technical education in a generation.

This includes introducing new T Levels from 2020 – the technical equivalent to A Levels – and more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities. 

Research via the government also showed that only around 7% of people in England aged between 18 and 65 are undertaking training at Level 4 or 5. 

About 190,000 people are currently studying for qualifications at this level compared with the two million studying across A-Level and Degree level courses.

The Institutes include innovative collaborations such as: Milton Keynes College, Cranfield University and Microsoft; and New College Durham, Newcastle University and Siemens.

The Institutes of Technology will be backed by £170m of government investment, this means they will have access to advanced equipment and facilities and can tap into the latest research from their university partners in order to anticipate the skills needs of the future workplace.