The 12 institutes of technology (IoTs) will specialise in UK level 4 and 5 (EQF level 5) technical training in STEM subjects, including digital skills, advanced manufacturing and engineering. These institutes are designed as collaborative ventures between universities, further education colleges and employers. Leading employers including Airbus, GE Aviation, the Met Office, Microsoft, Nissan and Siemens are set to take part and will be involved in the design and delivery of the curricula, as well as the leadership and governance of the institutes. Employers will also provide seconded staff, programme equipment and additional investment.
Growing demand for technical education
The UK Government is introducing several initiatives in technical education, including the commencement of T-levels from 2020 (technical courses equivalent to A-levels – EQF level 3). At present, 7% of adults in the UK over the age of 18 undertake training at EQF level 5. This is comparatively low compared to other countries across the OECD. A growing demand for apprenticeships is predicted at this level. Evidence suggests that students completing qualifications at this level have a better rate of progression to further learning, and benefit from improved employability. This initiative is designed to meet future demand in technical disciplines, particularly STEM. Programmes offered by the 12 IoTs will help to provide a progression route into higher levels of technical education (level 6 and above), as well as directly into employment.
Competition to select providers
The concept of these institutes was first discussed in 2015. In December 2017 the government launched a two-stage competition to select the future IoTs. Applicants bid for a share of a GBP 170 million capital fund; each proposal was a collaboration between at least one further education (FE) provider, one higher education (HE) provider, and at least two employers in the sectors relevant to the institute’s proposed technical specialisations. Some 35 applicants took part in the first stage of bidding. They were checked to make sure they met the eligibility requirements, and were evaluated against assessment criteria relating to the core objectives and critical success factors of the IoT programme. A total of 16 applicants were shortlisted to proceed to stage 2, where a full business case was assessed together with an application for capital funding, in order to confirm viability of the proposal.
With the 12 successful bids now announced, the chosen applicants will commence the practical process of getting each IoT ready for operation. The first students are expected to start their courses in September 2019.