From education to employment

Institutes of Technology: Bridging the Skills Gap

Georgina Barnard exclusive

Georgina Barnard, Director of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Institute of Technology, discusses how the Institute of Technology is shaping the future for learners as an alternative Level 4+ route for those wanting to gain higher technical skills in priority sectors.

What are Institutes of Technology?

Institutes of Technology (IoT) are a £300M government-backed investment designed to significantly increase the number of learners participating in higher technical education and provide the skills that businesses need both now and in the future.

The world is changing rapidly. Exciting new technologies provide innovative solutions to help keep pace with change, but we need creative and motivated individuals with higher technical skills to take advantage of these technological opportunities. That’s where Institutes of Technology can make a real difference.

Each Institute of Technology is a partnership between local colleges, universities and leading employers. They have been established to offer higher technical education provision in England and improve the practical application of skills training and development to meet local labour market needs.

IoTs must be employer-led as employer engagement is critical to the design, delivery and strategic direction of all IoTs.

Announcing a New Institute of Technology

A bid led by Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group (NSCG) and backed by key employer partners Dell, Hitachi Energy, MOOG, Siemens and St. Modwen Logistics has secured a brand new multi-million pound Institute of Technology (IoT). Opening in 2025, the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Institute of Technology will provide employer-focused higher-level courses to equip learners with the skills needed to quickly move into exciting jobs in modern methods of construction, advanced engineering, high-value manufacturing, digital and health/life sciences.

Commitment to Accessibility and Local Impact

The Institute is committed to developing accessible non-traditional routes into higher technical education, and the new purpose-built building will provide learners with an inspirational learning environment, industry-standard equipment and an agile, responsive course offer designed in collaboration with employer partners.

Education is key and with this in mind, we are engaging with local schools to raise aspirations and make students aware of the exciting STEM careers available to them and the incredible opportunities that the Institute will bring.

We are working very closely with Keele University to ensure our students can progress from Level 4 and 5 (HNC/D) to degree and master’s degree programmes with opportunities for top-up degree programmes, a fantastic cost-effective proposition for any student wishing to enhance their career prospects and gain a degree in just one year. Strong partnerships such as this are vital to help bridge the gap between further education and higher education, giving students excellent progression opportunities to achieve their higher education ambitions.

Developing a technically skilled workforce and providing an even wider range of career pathways for the people of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire is what the Institute is all about. One of its greatest strengths is the degree of collaboration involved, bringing together the further and higher education sectors, alongside local employers to shape the design of courses to ensure that we provide training to respond to the regional skills gap. We are passionate about ensuring that our IoT is a welcoming, diverse and inclusive environment so that all students can fulfil their full potential. Part of that is looking at ways to encourage more women to consider technically skilled occupations in a historically male-dominated sector.

Part of a National Network

The Stoke on Trent and Staffordshire IoT will be one of 21 across the country, spread across England, with many in areas where they are needed most, including priority levelling up areas such as Barking and Dagenham, Blackpool, Sunderland and Dudley. There are 19 IoT’s already open to learners, with training delivered from over 80 sites in areas such as Yorkshire, the North West, North East, West Midlands, East Midlands, South West, London and the South East. The Institute will be one of two new institutes opening in 2025.

By Georgina Barnard, Newcastle and Stafford College’s Director of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Institute of Technology.

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