Institutes of Technology launch to upskill adults in tech careers

The UK government’s Institutes of Technology (IoT) will launch in October with the mission of rapidly retraining up to 4,000 working adults across the UK as part of efforts to address the current technology skills gap.

Ten IoTs will be operational starting in October 2021 across the country and will offer courses to people aged 19 and over in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects such as artificial intelligence (AI), digitization of manufacturing, digital construction, agricultural robotics and cybersecurity.

IoTs will partner with local employers to ensure courses address existing skills gaps. Priority will be given to people employed locally at the centers, in industries such as digital or healthcare, so that students can progress to more skilled and better paying jobs in their area.

The content will be delivered through a combination of remote and in-person study, ranging in duration from 50 to 138 hours, as a means of providing flexibility for students to tailor the training to their lives.

“Ensuring that more people can be trained and developed at any stage of their life to secure highly qualified and well-paying jobs is at the center of our plans,” said Minister of Continuing and Higher Education, Michelle Donelan, adding that the courses contribute to “level up” job opportunities across the UK.

To illustrate the work that IoTs will carry out, the government noted that courses for the medical engineering and technology sectors are taught by the Black Country and Marches Institute of Technology. The program will allow medical engineering professionals to acquire new skills in the use, calibration and maintenance of anesthetic and operating room equipment. Staff are signing up with local employers like Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust.

IoTs were launched in 2019 under initiatives to fill the UK’s technology skills gap. With a total budget of £ 6.4 million, the network is designed to drive collaboration between higher education (FE), providers, higher education, vendors or universities and employers to provide higher technical education and training in STEM subjects.

The first wave of IoT, which included EF providers, around 60 employers and 18 universities, was selected through a government-led competition in which a leading provider, a EF college or university, worked with local employers and other stakeholders to create an IoT for their area.

The providers of that first wave were announced in April 2019. The second wave of competition was launched in February 2020 and was open to any area that is not currently covered by an IoT.

New IoTs include London City, led by Siemens, the Port of London Authority, London & Regional Properties Newham College and Queen Mary University, which focus on the areas of transport, engineering, infrastructure, energy and digital. South Central IoT, led by companies like Microsoft, KPMG, and McAfee with Milton Keynes College, Activate Learning, and Cranfield University, focuses on areas such as cybersecurity, software development, programming, and data coding and analysis.

The network is part of the government’s goal of boosting the acceptance and quality of higher technical qualifications, which are between A-levels and grades, as a path of progression for youth or adults looking to retrain and acquire skills in areas such as STEM. Starting in September 2022, the government will begin to implement the recently approved Higher Technical Qualifications, starting with Digital, followed by Construction and Health in 2023.

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