Institutes of Technology will address tech talent deficit

The twelve new Institutes of Technology could be the answer to rectifying the talent deficit in key STEM areas, said Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates and Global Tech Advocates.

Commenting, he said: “The announcement of twelve new ‘Institutes of Technology’ is a very welcomed move for the tech sector and could prove a vital step in addressing the country’s digital talent deficit.

“The education system in Britain needs to align with the demands of a digital economy and that in part means removing the misguided perceptions that a degree is the only way into meaningful employment.”

The Institutes of Technology, announced by the Government, will be set up across the country to boost young people’s skills. They will be collaborations between universities, Further Education colleges, and employers including Nissan, Siemens and Microsoft. They will specialise in delivering quality higher level technical training (at Level 4 and 5) in STEM subjects such as digital, advanced manufacturing and engineering that will provide employers with the skilled workforce they need.

The institutes form a key part of the Government’s plans to improve technical education. This includes introducing new T Levels from 2020 – the technical equivalent to A Levels – and more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities.

Prime Minister Theresa May said: “I firmly believe that education is key to opening up opportunity for everyone – but to give our young people the skills they need to succeed, we need an education and training system which is more flexible and diverse than it is currently.

“New technologies are transforming the world of work, and to harness the opportunities on offer we must equip our future workforce with the technical skills they need to thrive, and that the economy needs to grow.”

In December 2018 the Education Secretary set out his 10 year ambition to upgrade the nation’s skills so more young people have the same high-quality training opportunities with clear pathways to skilled jobs as those in top performing technical education countries like Germany.

Research shows that only around 7 per cent of people in England aged between 18 and 65 are undertaking training at Level 4 or 5 – one of the lowest rates in the OECD. Only around 190,000 people are currently studying for qualifications at this level compared with around 2 million studying across Level 3 (A Level or equivalent) and Level 6 (Degree level).

Education Secretary, Damian Hinds, said: “These new Institutes of Technology will be the pinnacle of technical training – new collaborations between universities, colleges and business to make sure young people have the skills they need to build a well-paid rewarding, career, while the economy gains the skilled workers it needs to be more productive.

I’m determined to properly establish higher technical training in this country – so that it’s recognised and sought after by employers and young people alike. These Institutes are a key part of delivering this. We are transforming technical education including introducing new T Levels from 2020 and more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities. But we want more young people to progress and get the higher level qualifications that lead to high skilled, more rewarding jobs.

“Institutes of Technology will help employers to get the skilled workforce they need, especially in much sought-after STEM skills and will offer young people a clear path to a great, well paid career.”

The twelve Institutes will be backed by £170m of government investment so they have access to state-of-the-art equipment and facilities and will tap into the latest research from their university partners to anticipate the skills needs of the future workplace. They will also benefit from additional support from local employers and partners, who will contribute resources such as further investment, seconded teaching staff and equipment.

Shaw concluded: “With locations set from East London to Devon, Lincoln and York, this is about making digital skills training available to the nation and providing the practical, real world applications that are at the heart of the contemporary workforce.

“The approach from the Government must be applauded, collaborating with Britain’s world-leading universities and bringing in the private sector with the likes of Siemens and Microsoft, will future proof the scheme and ensure that what we’re teaching our young people is progressive and reflects the realities of industries experiencing unprecedented change.

“Unlocking the potential of the UK’s domestic talent will be absolutely critical for Britain forging ahead through the challenging times that lay ahead – initiatives like this are imperative and underpin the thriving tech sector.”