Nine further Institutes of Technology announced in skills push
The UK government has announced moves aimed to address the shortage of skilled workers in a range of sectors, through an expansion in further education. The opposition has criticised the measures as insufficient for addressing disappearing training opportunities.
According to a government statement, more than 100 short courses will be offered at institutions in England from September 2022. The courses, which will last between six weeks and one year, are intended as an alternative to a conventional three- or four-year degree for people looking to upskill or retrain.
They will be provided by more than 20 universities and colleges and cover areas in which there are skills shortages, “such as digital, net zero, education, STEM, and healthcare”.
£150m has been awarded to 100 colleges and universities to upgrade facilities and equipment to boost access to higher-level technical training and flexible courses. Colleges benefitting will include Weston College in Somerset while universities include the Universities of Wolverhampton and Keele.
The government is framing this as a measure to tackle regional skills gaps and “level up” local economies.
Young people starting their T Level qualifications in 2023 will also benefit from an overall cash boost of £615m, which will increase funding per student by over 8 per cent, the government said. This accounts for an extra 40 hours of education, helping students catch up with learning compromised by the pandemic. Funding will be boosted most for “high value courses” – those focused on in-demand skills which could prove more lucrative.
Student finance will be available to students taking these courses. From 2025, the government’s Lifelong Loan Entitlement will provide individuals with a loan entitlement equivalent to four years of post-18 education, which may be used flexibly.
“Ensuring everyone is given the opportunity to reach their full potential, no matter their age or life stage, is a vital part of our mission to level up this country,” said Nadhim Zahawi, the education secretary. “These measures, including our new short courses and nine new Institutes of Technology, will boost access to more high-quality and flexible education and training, giving people the chance to learn at a pace that is right for them, while ensuring we have the skilled workforce needed to boost our economy.”
The further nine Institutes of Technology will bring the total number of these institutes to 21. Institutes of Technology are collaborations between employers, colleges, and universities specialising in technical education.
These new institutes will be based in locations across England – including Blackpool, Derby, Salford, and Essex – and will specialise in subjects such as advanced manufacturing, information security, aerospace, and healthcare.
The shadow further education and skills minister, Toby Perkins, commented: “Under this government, as vacancies in key sectors from health to wholesale have risen, training opportunities have disappeared. The government needs a plan for skills that amounts to more than quick slogans or sticking plasters.”
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